BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Julian Fellowes’ gilded new series? It’s New York’s answer to Downton Abbey 

The former model, 29, who studied drama at Yale and is known professionally by her middle name, plays heroine Marion Brook

The former model, 29, who studied drama at Yale and is known professionally by her middle name, plays heroine Marion Brook

For those on the hunt for a good old costume drama to get your teeth into, there is good news on the horizon.

Filming resumes imminently on The Gilded Age, the lavish new nine-part drama created by Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes.

It stars Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon as aristocratic siblings who take in their orphaned niece, played by Louisa Jacobson, youngest daughter of Meryl Streep and her husband Don Gummer.

The former model, 29, who studied drama at Yale and is known professionally by her middle name, plays heroine Marion Brook who, in 1882, moves from Pennsylvania to be with her aunts in New York after her father, a Civil War general in the Union army, dies.

Shooting was to have started last spring. I remember Fellowes telling me about the sets that had been created; all the fancy costumes, and locations in Newport, Rhode Island, where the wealthy tycoons of New York and Philadelphia built their spectacular mansions (though they always referred to them as ‘cottages’).

But then the pandemic delayed filming. It resumed briefly last autumn, but will start up again later this month. I’m told there’s several months shooting left to do, so we aren’t likely to see the HBO series on our TV screens for a while. 

Following the tradition of Downton and Belgravia, the new series explores the lives of the fabulously privileged, and those less so, at a time, during the late 19th century, when America became more prosperous and saw unprecedented growth, thanks to the rise of transcontinental railways and huge advances in industrial technology.

The Gilded Age also stars Harry Richardson (Drake Carne in Poldark) as the Harvard-educated son of wealthy upstart neighbours (Morgan Spector and Carrie Coon)

The Gilded Age also stars Harry Richardson (Drake Carne in Poldark) as the Harvard-educated son of wealthy upstart neighbours (Morgan Spector and Carrie Coon)

Fellowes once told me: ‘I like my film stars to look like film stars.’ And as the creator, writer and executive producer — with Gareth Neame, his longtime Downton partner — he has chosen wisely here.

The Gilded Age also stars Harry Richardson (Drake Carne in Poldark) as the Harvard-educated son of wealthy upstart neighbours (Morgan Spector and Carrie Coon). The show has been a boon, too, to Broadway names who, like theatrical colleagues over here, have seen their livelihoods eroded.

The line-up includes Denee Benton, Kelli O’Hara, Donna Murphy, Debra Monk, Katie Finneran and Simon Jones.

Christine Baransk

Cynthia Nixon

It stars Christine Baranski (left) and Cynthia Nixon (right) as aristocratic siblings who take in their orphaned niece, played by Louisa Jacobson, youngest daughter of Meryl Streep and her husband Don Gummer

Shooting was to have started last spring. I remember Julian Fellowes (above) telling me about the sets that had been created; all the fancy costumes, and locations in Newport, Rhode Island, where the wealthy tycoons of New York and Philadelphia built their spectacular mansions (though they always referred to them as ‘cottages’)

Shooting was to have started last spring. I remember Julian Fellowes (above) telling me about the sets that had been created; all the fancy costumes, and locations in Newport, Rhode Island, where the wealthy tycoons of New York and Philadelphia built their spectacular mansions (though they always referred to them as ‘cottages’)

I want to be like Judi, says Nicole

Nicole Kidman said that Judi Dench is her heroine. ‘She’s like the Queen, right? She’s so soothing.’

The Oscar-winning actresses worked together on the movie musical Nine. ‘It was just the once, but I’ve spent time with her; and I love how she’s the centre of her family… but she’s so mischievous!’ Kidman told me.

In fact, she’s been trying to follow Dench’s example, and bring a bit more mischief into her life — ‘like Judi’ — though professionally rather than personally. She likes the way Dench takes on ‘deep and difficult roles’, followed by something where a few more larks can be had.

Kidman was chatting after seeing the success of her roller-coaster thriller The Undoing on Sky and HBO, which she followed up with The Prom on Netflix.

She’ll next be on the small screen in the mini-series Nine Perfect Strangers, based on fellow Australian Liane Moriarty’s novel. Moriarty also wrote Big Little Lies, which was another TV winner for Kidman.

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