Apple TV Plus’ Franklin trailer shows off the epic adventure of America’s founding father

Michael Douglas in Franklin
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

If you'd asked me to suggest a hero for a blockbuster adventure, I'd be pretty far down the list before I suggested Benjamin Franklin. But seeing Michael Douglas in the role for the forthcoming Apple TV Plus series Franklin suggests I've missed a trick. It turns out that the writer, inventor and eventual abolitionist was quite the adventurer.

The new series, which debuts in April, is based on the book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America by Pulitzer prize winner Stacy Schiff, and it follows Franklin on the greatest gamble of his career. A secret mission to France in which he outwitted British spies, French informers and hostile colleagues alike in order to forge a Franco-American alliance and a subsequent peace treaty with England. 

As Apple puts it: "Diplomats and historians still regard it as the greatest single tour of duty by an ambassador in our nation’s history" – and as you can see from the trailer below, it looks like it'll be quite the epic.

Michael Douglas is a man on a mission

It's fair to say that this was a pretty high-stakes mission – had Franklin been unsuccessful, American independence was by no means assured – and that Franklin was an unlikely hero. He was already 70 and despite his many talents he had no diplomatic training whatsoever. Had his mission been more widely known, there would have been very real fears of Franklin accidentally causing an international incident. But Franklin was super smart and had tons of charisma too, qualities that Douglas clearly delivers in the show's trailer.

The series also features quite the cast: Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) as Temple Franklin, Thibault de Montalembert (Call My Agent!) as Comte de Vergennes, Daniel Mays (Line of Duty) as Edward Bancroft, Ludivine Sagnier (Lupin) as Madame Brillon, Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan) as John Adams, Assaad Bouab (Call My Agent!, again) as Beaumarchais, Jeanne Balibar (Irma Vep) as Madame Helvetius and Theodore Pellerin (There’s Someone Inside Your House) as Marquis de Lafayette. With a writing and production team whose credits include Boardwalk Empire, Masters of The Air and The Sopranos, Apple has clearly recruited tons of talent to tell this epic tale.

Judging by the trailer this looks set to be a gorgeously filmed and apparently quite funny historical drama, so it looks like a definite for your to-watch list.

Franklin premieres globally on Apple TV Plus, one of the best streaming services, on 12 April 2024.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.