PBS Stations to Stream Period Drama 'Jamestown' with Passport

Sophie Rundle, Niamh Walsh and Naomi Battrick in "Jamestown". (Photo: © Carnival Film & Television Ltd. 2017)
Sophie Rundle, Niamh Walsh and Naomi Battrick in "Jamestown". (Photo: © Carnival Film & Television Ltd. 2017)

British period drama Jamestown is finally making its way to the U.S.!

From the producers behind Downton Abbey, this series follows the lives of three dynamic women as they decide to leave their dark pasts in England behind and embark on the journey of a lifetime across the ocean to forge a new existence in 17th century America.

In a new twist, however, the series will not air on Masterpiece on television. Instead, it will be available to watch only through online streaming services. Jamestown will debut exclusively via two digital platforms: The membership service Passport and the PBS Masterpiece Amazon channel.

Jamestown’s ensemble cast is led by Peaky Blinders’ Sophie Rundle, Holby City’s Niamh Walsh and Waterloo Road’s Naomi Battrick. They are joined by Max Beesley, Jason Flemyng, Kalani Queypo and Raoul Trujillo.

Watch the Sky 1 trailer for the series' first season below: 

 

The series’ description offers a bit more detail on what to expect from the show.

Taking viewers back to 1619 Jamestown, Virginia, Alice, Verity and Jocelyn are among the first women to arrive in the English colony. Duty bound to marry the three men who have paid for their passage to the New World, they have little idea of what the future holds or the disruption their arrival is about to bring.

Twisting storylines follow the new arrivals as they make an immediate impact and are thrust into a new world of love, desire, power and survival. While love triangles, bitter rivalries and fierce competition cause conflict for the residents, ultimately they are bound together by their resolute will to survive and thrive in their new lives.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Passport is a new membership benefit for those who support their local PBS stations, allowing donors to access a library of public television programming whenever they want, through Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, the PBS app and an online web portal. Each local station has its own localized Passport experience: For example, you can activate WETA Passport right here and support WETA here in the Washington, D.C. area.  

Passport members will be able to stream the entire first season of Jamestown beginning March 23. New episodes will also stream weekly on the Amazon Masterpiece channel, but if you’re a binge-watcher, then your best bet is to activate Passport now.

Jamestown will be the first Masterpiece drama offered to viewers in this way, but hopefully not the last. “We will be closely watching this pilot to see how it works for stations,” Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, told Current magazine. If this strategy proves successful, Jamestown “could lead to more selective OTT (over-the-top) offers” in future.

(For what it’s worth: I’m a big fan of anything that gets us U.S. viewers more British television content as quickly as possible, and, as a programming method, Passport is an intriguing distribution avenue. Especially if there’s a chance this program might also come to broadcast at a later date as well. We’ll have to see how this all shakes out of course, but overall? I like it.)  

The second season of Jamestown just finished airing in the U.K. No word yet on when U.S. audiences might get to see those episodes, but we can keep our fingers crossed.

Does Jamestown sound like something you might watch? Are you Passport members? (I’m curious because I might need to recap this as a spring project…) Let’s discuss in the comments!