A new adaptation of Jules Verne classic Around The World In 80 Days has been dismissed as ‘woke nonsense’ by furious BBC license payers.
The eight-part adaptation starring David Tennant as globetrotting Phileas Fogg launched on Boxing Day, but a series of socially conscious tweaks to the legendary tale left viewers choking on their turkey sandwiches.
Two notable departures from Verne’s original 1872 text sees Passepartout, Fogg’s loyal valet, played by a black actor – French star Ibrahim Koma – while Detective Fix also gets a modern-day makeover.
Traditionally a suspicious Scotland yard inspector, the male character is transformed into aspiring female journalist and full-time feminist Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue, played by French actress Leonie Benesch.
Not happy: A new adaptation of Jules Verne classic Around The World In 80 Days has been dismissed as ‘woke nonsense’ by furious BBC license payers
But the fresh take didn’t do down well with fans of the novel, and many were quick to air their grievances over the colour-blind casting on social media.
Taking to Twitter, one disgruntled viewer raged: ‘More woke nonsense from the Beeb – the novel was set in 1873, as if Passepartout would have been black – go woke, go broke (nothing against black people btw, just can’t stand to see history being rewritten, even when it’s fiction).’
A second added: ‘I really liked the first two episodes of #AroundTheWorldIn80Days and David Tennant is a national treasure. But it should read ‘original screenplays loosely based on characters and plotlines imagined by Jules Verne’ rather than ‘adapted from the novel’, shouldn’t it?’
Speaking out: The modern take didn’t do down well with fans of the novel, and many were quick to air their grievances on social media
Quite a difference: The new series features black actor Ibrahim Koma as valet Passepartout, while Detective Fix is transformed into aspiring journalist and full-time feminist Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue, played by Leonie Benesch
A third disappointed viewer wrote: ‘I started to watch the TV series “Around the world in 80 days”. As a child the book was a favourite of mine.
‘I expected a depiction of an eccentric Edwardian gentleman’s adventures but was presented with a story line the relevance to the original escapes me.’
While a fourth added: ‘What a total load of s**t was Around The World in 80 Days!’
However others were more charitable, with one enthusiastic fan posting: ‘An adaptation of wonder, including the titles and the casting. We can’t understand the critics whose negative review nearly put us off.
‘We like the depth of the characters and the fact that it is a triumph of the quiet, competent man.’
Big fans: While a faction of the viewing public didn’t like the modern take, others enjoyed the new BBC series
All change: (L-R) David Tennant, Leonie Benesch and Ibrahim Koma in Around The World In 80 Days)
While the original novel is a work of fiction, Phileas Fogg was actually inspired by real-life adventurer William Perry Fogg.
Leading man Tennant previously criticised central character Phileas Fogg for representing ‘alarming’ traditions of the British Empire.
Discussing the swashbuckling traveller, Tennant, 50, told Radio Times: ‘In many ways Phileas Fogg represents everything that’s alarming and peculiar about that old sense of British Empire.
‘Potentially, it’s a story about an England that should elicit very little sympathy.’
Divisive: Leading man Tennant previously criticised central character Phileas Fogg for representing ‘alarming’ traditions of the British Empire
Tennant also stars alongside his 19-year-old son Ty, whom he adopted in 2012.
He said: ‘He plays a 19th-century New York hoodlum and manages to make everything cool. I can’t identify with that, because at 19 I was so far from cool.’
In September, then media minister John Whittingdale announced new rules making it a legal requirement for public service broadcasters (PSBs) to carry shows that reflect Britain and British values.
He cited series such as Downton Abbey, Great British Bake Off, Top Gear, The Bodyguard and Doctor Who, in which Tennant played the titular Time Lord between 2005 and 2010.
Opinion: ‘Potentially, it’s a story about an England that should elicit very little sympathy,’ he said
On this issue, Tennant said: ‘Is there some inherent criticism within this plea for more Britishness? Did Britishness mean ‘made in Britain’ or programmes that have a certain political viewpoint?
‘Is it just a government pleading for the artist to be more sympathetic towards it? Why would the Government feel they need more sympathy directed towards them?
‘Perhaps that’s a question they should ask themselves, rather than trying to blame it on the television industry.’