Tom Jones On PBS: Plot Details, First-look Photos, Cast, Official Trailer, Premiere Date, Filming Locations, & More.
In 2021, MASTERPIECE celebrated its 50th Anniversary. During that momentous year, MASTERPIECE on PBS announced in September 2021 an exciting new co-production of Henry Fielding’s classic book, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling. MASTERPIECE, ITV, and Mammoth Screen (Poldark, Victoria) will partner to adapt, reimagining the Tom Jones book as a four-part TV miniseries.
THE STORY OF TOM JONES – AND A JANE AUSTEN CONNECTION?
The novel follows the adventurous journey of Tom Jones and his quest for real love. Tom Jones was first published in 1749 and “has delighted and scandalized readers” ever since – including Jane Austen!
Yes, Jane Austen was likely a Henry Fielding fan. The mysterious flirtation between Austen and Lefroy is connected to Tom Jones and the color of Lefroy’s coat – matching the character of Tom Jones’ own jacket because Lefroy was “supposedly” a huge fan! You can read Austen’s letters and come to your own conclusions about what Jane Austen meant with her Tom Jones references.
Even so, Austen fans who haven’t read Tom Jones are sure to be pleased by the connection. Janeites (and anyone else who hasn’t read the book yet or doesn’t plan to) will soon discover why the story was so scandalous and delightful!
Let’s just hope the adaptation makes sure to remember to give Jones a white coat…
Solly McLeod, the new actor from the upcoming The Rising, will star as the hero Tom. Sophie Wilde from You Don’t Know Me will play the heroine, Sophia Western.
Also on the cast is Hannah Waddingham (The Primetime Emmy award-winner) as the seductive Lady Bellaston, Pearl Mackie as Sophia’s maid, Honour, James Fleet as Squire Allworthy, Alun Armstrong as Squire Western, Shirley Henderson as Sophia’s Aunt Western, Tamzin Merchant as Aunt Harriet, Julian Rhind-Tutt as Fitzpatrick, and Susannah Fielding as Mrs. Waters.
Then there is Daniel Rigby as Partridge, James Wilbraham as Tom’s cousin, Blifil, Felicity Montagu as Bridget Allworthy, Janine Duvitski as Mrs. Wilkins, Dean Lennox Kelly as Black George, and Lucy Fallon as Molly.
All in all, they’ve rounded up a brilliant cast for this adaptation.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
The other Executive Producers are James Gandhi, Damien Timmer, and Helen Ziegler for Mammoth Screen. For MASTERPIECE, Rebecca Eaton, and Susanne Simpson. And finally, Polly Hill for ITV.
Gwyneth Hughes, the writer and executive producer of the upcoming miniseries, explains her vision:
“Tom Jones is the mother of all romcoms and isn’t that just what we all need after the last couple of years of misery? It’s a story where the sun barely stops shining, where love conquers all, and at its warm heart stand a pair of young sweethearts everyone can root for. Henry Fielding’s 18th century novel is sexy and fun; it’s also a dramatic rollercoaster, addressing so many modern concerns around consent, sexual equality and the pursuit of happiness. …This is a classic adaptation with a wise soul and a great big smile on its face.”
Well, that puts a big smile on our faces! We need more uplifting and happy stories in this world right now. And what’s better than a romantic period drama where love conquers all in the end?
TOM JONES OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION
One of the greatest novels in the English language comes to MASTERPIECE in a four-part adaptation of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, giving a new twist to the tale of an illegitimate young man’s love for a beautiful heiress.
Solly McLeod stars as Tom, with Sophie Wilde as Sophia, the object of his infatuation and Hannah Waddingham as the iconic seductress Lady Bellaston.
The stellar cast also includes James Fleet, Shirley Henderson, Alun Armstrong, Pearl Mackie, and a torrent of other talent, bringing mid-18th-century England to life in all its passion and prejudice, luxury and loose morals.
OFFICIAL EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS
Sunday, April 30, 2023, at 9/8c on PBS
Tom and Sophia hit it off, despite their wildly contrasting backgrounds. Molly complicates the picture for Tom, and Blifil for Sophia.
Sunday, May 7, 2023, at 9/8c on PBS
Tom is banished by Allworthy. Meanwhile, Sophia flees her impending marriage to Blifil. Adventures ensue, including fateful encounters at two inns.
Sunday, May 14, 2023, at 9/8c on PBS
Tom is lured to a masquerade by an insatiable paramour; complications develop. Blifil and a loathsome lord try to compromise Sophia.
Sunday, May 21, 2023, at 9/8c on PBS
Tom’s letter to Lady Bellaston threatens to sink his prospects with Sophia. A swordfight puts him in even deeper trouble. A secret emerges.
RELEASE DATE OF TOM JONES
When will Tom Jones air on PBS?
The adaptation premieres on PBS on Sunday, April 30, 2023, at 9 pm ET. The four episodes will air through May 21, 2023, on Sundays.
A FEW FIRST-LOOK IMAGES
OFFICIAL TOM JONES PBS TRAILER
MORE ABOUT THE PBS TOM JONES MASTERPIECE ADAPTATION
James Gandhi, one of the Executive Producers from Mammoth Screen, explains why we should all be excited about this new reworking of the book:
“With Gwyneth Hughes’s masterful scripts, Georgia Parris at the directing helm and rising stars Solly McLeod and Sophie Wilde leading the cast – we couldn’t be more excited to bring this joyous 18th century story of identity and romance to the screen.”
Susanne Simpson, the Executive Producer of MASTERPIECE, has even more lovely things to say about the adaptation:
“Tom Jones is one of the most joyful, big-hearted romances ever written. We’re delighted to add it to the long list of MASTERPIECE classic adaptations. Mammoth Screen is the ideal producer to bring together a brilliant writer, exceptional director and outstanding cast for this ambitious project.”
But how will the classic novel play to a modern audience? Director Georgia Parris explains:
“This production of Tom Jones is an escapist romp into the sights, sounds and textures of 18th century England. It is an intimate story that shows how love and desire drive and confound us all, both women and men. I can’t wait to get started on telling this classic story, one of the first ever English novels, and making it resonate with a modern audience.”
Well, we can’t wait!
TOM JONES ON PBS – FILMING LOCATIONS
So, where and when did they film Tom Jones? The funding for the miniseries came from Northern Ireland Screen; thus, it “filmed entirely on location in and around Belfast” in the autumn of 2021.
Richard Williams, the Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, revealed that they are “delighted to be working alongside Mammoth Screen, MASTERPIECE and ITV on the latest drama to film in Northern Ireland. We are sure audiences around the world will enjoy this exciting adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel.”
How do you feel about this new adaptation of the Tom Jones book? Are you as excited as us about the colorblind casting? Will you watch Tom Jones on PBS? Let us know in the comments.
Photos Courtesy of PBS