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National Geographic Channel’s first attempt at an original factual drama is officially a success for the network. Killing Lincoln premiered last night to record-setting ratings for Nat Geo, bringing in the highest average viewership the network has ever seen.
Narrated by Tom Hanks and starring The Killing’s Billy Campbell as Lincoln, Killing Lincoln has been a high profile project since its inception, garnering plenty of interest. The two-hour drama is based on the book of the same name by Bill O’Reilly, and focuses on one of the most famous presidential assassinations in history – the death of Abraham Lincoln. The premiere averaged 3.4 million persons 2+ over the entire two-hour premiere, the highest viewership in Nat Geo history according to Deadline.
The drama also starred Jesse Johnson in the role of killer John Wilkes Booth, Geraldine Hughes as Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as Graham Beckel and Shawn Pyfrom. It was produced by Tony and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions, with the two executive producing. Nat Geo Channel CEO David Lyle attributes the success of the project to viewers being “hungry for entertaining, culturally relevant programming.” A big name like Tom Hanks attached certainly doesn’t hurt either.
So far response to Killing Lincoln seems to have been generally favorable. If you, like me, missed the premiere last night in favor of another depressing episode of Downton Abbey, Nat Geo plans to air it again on this coming weekend; it’s scheduled for encores on Saturday, February 23rd at 7 p.m. EST and again at 9 p.m.