By Hal Boedeker
January 19, 2015
Good news for "Doc Martin" fans.
Martin Clunes, star of that series, will play Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in "Arthur & George," a series from PBS' "Masterpiece" later this year.
"Masterpiece" announced new offerings Monday at the Television Critics Association meeting in Pasadena, Calif.
"How perfect that 'Arthur & George' will air on PBS, as public television has been such a wonderful home to 'Doc Martin,' " Clunes said in a statement. "I'm sure that our new series will be a treat for 'Doc Martin' fans, and for everyone who enjoys a terrific drama."
The three-part "Arthur & George" is based on Julian Barnes' novel about a half-Indian son of a vicar. Doyle investigates whether the vicar's son has been framed for a crime.
A modern-version of Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch has been a major hit for "Masterpiece."
"Masterpiece" also will present "Home Fires" about women living in a rural British village during World War II while the men are away fighting. The cast includes Samantha Bond, who plays Lady Rosamund Painswick on "Downton Abbey," and Francesca Annis of "Reckless."
"Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton was taking a well-deserved victory lap as the show flourishes.
"For 'Masterpiece' to be the No. 1 show on PBS in its 44th year is historic,” she said in a statement. "We are proud of the work of our British partners and grateful to all of our American supporters."
"Masterpiece" scored a 3.6 national household rating (live+7) in 2014. That rating is up 80 percent from 2010 -- an astonishing figure as the TV universe fragments.
"Masterpiece," which is presented by WGBH Boston, has expanded to offer "Grantchester" at 10 p.m. Sundays after "Downton Abbey." That entertaining mystery with James Norton and Robson Green started this week.
And "Masterpiece" has potentially one of the year's biggest shows: "Wolf Hall," an adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novels, on April 5. Emmy-winner Damian Lewis ("Homefront") plays King Henry VIII, and Tony-winner Mark Rylance is Thomas Cromwell.
PBS had other drama plans, not related to "Masterpiece." Public television plans a six-episode drama about Civil War nurses. The show will film in Virginia air on Sundays starting in winter 2016.
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