Roma Downey: 'Baxters' a 'hope opera' likely to satisfy 'Touched by an Angel' fans

Roma Downey and Ted McGinley star in the new family drama, "The Baxters." Photo courtesy of Prime Video
1 of 5 | Roma Downey and Ted McGinley star in the new family drama, "The Baxters." Photo courtesy of Prime Video

NEW YORK, March 28 (UPI) -- Touched by an Angel icon Roma Downey says she was hooked on Karen Kingsbury's faith-based Redemption novel series from the moment she started reading it.

Downey's dream of sharing a screen version of the books with TV viewers is realized Thursday when The Baxters, a family drama based on Kingsbury's bestsellers, premieres on Prime Video.


The show follows the trials and triumphs of long-married couple Elizabeth (Downey) and John Baxter (Ted McGinley) and their five adult children, played by Ali Cobrin, Masey McLain, Josh Plasse, Emily Peterson and Reilly Anspaugh.

Kathie Lee Gifford and her daughter, Cassidy, as well as Brandon Hirsch, Jake Allyn, Damien Leake and Orel De La Mota, co-star.

"I thought, 'Gosh, this needs to be a TV series,'" Downey told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.


"Not since I was on Touched by an Angel have I felt there was a show that was needed like this. People have always said, 'Can't you bring Touched by an Angel back?' The Baxters, I thought, could fill that void that I believe exists in TV programming for faith and family audiences."

Downey described Kingsbury as "extraordinary," noting the author has written 27 books about the Baxter family.

"She is a very prolific and very talented writer," the actress-producer said.

"She knows people. She knows families. She has written rich, wonderful characters and extraordinary plots and story lines that are so engaging and compelling."

Downey said she is pleased that the show will debut heading into Easter weekend, a time of celebration for Christians.

"The Baxters plays like a 'hope opera,' so it is our hope that your family will be gathered together for the Easter holiday and you will all curl up together on the couch and put on Prime Video to watch The Baxters," she said.

The series is relatable regardless of one's background, however, Downey said, emphasizing that at its heart, it is a family drama.

"People who believe will, maybe, find it very meaningful to see characters on the screen that reflect values that they have and that are prayer warriors. Every family, at some time is going to be brought to their knees. The difference is when the Baxters are brought to their knees is they pray," she added.


"It's certainly been made with the heart and hope that audiences everywhere will come in. We see family dynamics at play. We don't always like each other. We don't always approve of each other's choices, but, at the end of the day, they are people who love each other and have each other's backs."

Downey said she initially planned to produce the series and not star in it as Elizabeth.

"Anyway, here I am," she said with a laugh.

"I connected to her through her mother's heart. I am a mother myself. She loves her children fiercely and passionately. She has a lot of compassion and empathy," Downey added.

"She is a very patient woman with some of the shenanigans that the kids get up to. She holds steady at the center [along with] her husband John, played beautifully by Ted McGinley."

Downey -- who has been working behind the scenes for years, producing successful projects such as The Bible, The Dovekeepers and 2016's Ben-Hur -- said she's enjoyed being back on camera.

"Not since playing the angel Monica have I been a series lead, and it was great fun to work with this beautiful cast and this lovely material," she said.


Kingsbury told UPI in a separate Zoom interview that penning her Baxters books over the past 22 years has been a "labor of love."

"To see them come to life on the screen and just to know that everyone will be able to know what I know about the Baxter family -- of course, they don't know they're about to become famous -- is so exciting," the author said.

Kingsbury recalled it was an "easy yes" when Downey approached her about adapting the books into a TV series.

The writer just knew Downey would treat her source material with respect.

"The Baxters in the hands of Roma Downey? That was just a natural thing," Kingsbury said.

"Back when I wrote book 1, my dad said, 'You need to contact that Touched by an Angel woman because she would make this into a TV series!'" she added. "Roma Downey was the perfect person."

Someone Like You -- a film based on an unrelated Kingsbury book and starring Allyn, Sarah Fisher, Lynn Collins and Robyn Lively -- opens in theaters on April 2.

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