Idris Elba returned as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther to BBC America on Tuesday and drew 206,000 viewers. That’s up from the 168,000 that Luther‘s Season 2 debut pulled in on September 28, 2011, according to Nielsen. The best Tuesday drama debut in the cable network’s 15-year history, the Season 3 U.S. premiere of the show was also just slightly ahead of the 205,000 viewers that Season 2 of Luther pulled in when Live+7 was added. This week’s debut received 90,000 viewers among the adults 25-54 demo. Of course, those numbers are all well below what the Emmy-nominated series garnered in the UK earlier this year; the third cycle of the BBC America co-produced crime drama premiered on July 2 on BBC One to 5 million viewers. While that number is huge compared to the U.S. viewership, it was actually the lowest UK debut in the series’ history.
Luther creator Neil Cross confirmed prequel movie plans for the BBC series starring Idris Elba, saying he’d finish a screenplay and hopes to film next year. The film will follow Luther’s early career when he is still married to Zoe; the film’s final scene is the opening scene of the TV series first season, Cross said at the Edinburgh TV Festival, according to multiple press reports. “Idris is a brilliant leading man, and we’ve hoped to turn Luther into a movie for a long time,” Cross said.
Related: WME Signs Idris Elba
Elba is on board to play John Luther, as are Warren Brown, Indira Varma and Steve Mackintosh. Cross said he went with a prequel, rather than a follow-up to the series, so he could bring back popular supporting characters — including some who let’s say maybe don’t fare so well in the final season. Ruth Wilson’s Alice Morgan character, who doesn’t fit in, chronologically, with the prequel plans, is being mulled as a spinoff series, Cross told Variety last year.
Resident Evil actress Sienna Guillory will romance Idris Elba‘s troubled English police detective Luther in the drama series’ upcoming third season. The BBC and BBC America co-production is readying a new run of four hourlong episodes that began filming last week. Per the BBC, this season puts John Luther back under intense pressure, with two conflicting crimes to investigate and a ruthless ex-cop determined to bring him down. Guillory will play Mary, a worker in a vintage clothing shop who meets Luther by chance.
Andrew Davies, who wrote the script for The Three Musketeers and a slew of BBC period dramas, is adapting Lindy Woodhead’s nonfiction bestseller Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge for ITV Studios. I’m told that ITV hopes the story of how brash American retailer Harry Gordon Selfridge –”The Showman of Shopping” — opened the world’s first purpose-built department store in London in 1909 will repeat the success of Downton Abbey. That NBC Universal production has been a huge hit over here for ITV. Certainly there’s a plum role for the American actor playing Selfridge, who blew his fortune on mistresses and gambling before dying destitute. Selfridge’s girlfriends included famed dancer Isadora Duncan and Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. His massive overspending ultimately cost him control of Selfridges.
The second series of Downton Abbey, meanwhile, started shooting on location at Highclere stately home in Berkshire in March. Filming continues until July. PBS Masterpiece will premiere the second series on Jan. 8, 2012, following its ITV run starting this fall.
But that’s not the only bonnet-on-bonnet action coming your way on Masterpiece.
The second series of the BBC’s Upstairs Downstairs, a sequel to the original 1970s ITV show that chronicled the lives of the Edwardian Bellamy family, goes into production in September. The BBC originally announced its Upstairs Downstairs remake at the same time ITV unveiled Downton Abbey. “Upstairs Downstairs is elegantly entertaining but doesn’t reach the same heights as Downton Abbey,” sniffed the Daily Telegraph. Still, BBC1 controller Danny Cohen was pleased enough with the average 8.4 million viewers to commission another 6×60-minute series. There is no U.S. transmission date for Series 2 yet.