Greed, unvarnished ambition, sexual intrigue, the triumph of love. That may sound like a day in the life at MHz Choice, but it’s the new two-part drama A Dangerous Fortune, based on the blockbuster novel by Ken Follett.

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In the sweeping epic set in Victorian London, star-crossed lovers Maisie and Hugh meet as children through wretched circumstances and never forget each other. They travel wildly divergent paths: Maisie grows up as a London street urchin, and Hugh becomes the scion of the Pilaster banking dynasty. They meet again as young adults across the canyon of an economic divide.

It’s a German production, so get ready for the sight and sound of German actors portraying Londoners (a la Donna Leon’s Brunetti in Venice and Homicide Unit Istanbul in Turkey). Here’s a special treat: Axel Milberg from Tatort: Borowski plays Samuel Pilaster, Hugh’s ostracized, homosexual uncle. Do not miss his character’s attempt at singing 34 minutes into part 2. For Milberg fans, another memorable moment.

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Author Ken Follet (©Barbara Follet)

If you enjoyed the novel, prepare yourself for a restructuring of the story, with different emphases and parts omitted. Whereas the book establishes the relationships between Hugh, Solly, Edward and Mickey as boarding school classmates, the TV production drops that and presents the foursome as as adults. The novel is more about murder, whereas the television production emphasizes love and intrigue.

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Laura de Boer stars in A Dangerous Fortune
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Axel Milberg (Samuel) and Jeanette Hain (Augusta)

However, taken on its own terms, A Dangerous Fortune packs a wallop. Fast-paced and witty, with social themes that would please Dickens, it sweeps you into the world of London streets, Victorian banking, ruthless villains and characters undone by their own blindness. It stars British heartthrob Dominic Thorburn as Hugh Pilaster and Dutch actress Laura de Boer as Maisie. Their chemistry pops, making the love story satisfyingly wrenching. And if you notice Thorburn doesn’t seem to be speaking German… you’re right. He’s saying his lines in English and was dubbed by a German voice actor.

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Laura de Boer (Maisie) and Dominic Thorburn (Hugh)
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Dominic Thorburn (Hugh) and Daniel Sträßer (Solly)

So grab a scone, get the Kleenex handy and jump in. As kind-hearted Solly asks Maisie in part 1, “Do you believe in love?”

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