UK network ITV has commissioned a fifth season of hit period drama Downton Abbey from producer Carnival Films, which also has been picked up by PBS in the U.S. Production on a new set of trials and tribulations for the Crawley family and below stairs staff will begin in 2014 for later air on ITV and PBS’ Masterpiece. Masterpiece is a co-producer with Carnival Films. Season 5 will again be written by Julian Fellowes and exec produced by Carnival chief Gareth Neame, as well as Liz Trubridge and Fellowes. The news comes just as the final episode of the regular fourth season of Downton concluded in the UK tonight (there’s still the Christmas episode to come). Season 4 debuted on ITV this year on September 22nd, and grabbed its best-ever premiere ratings. It went on to average 11.8M viewers making it Britain’s highest-rated TV drama in 2013. The U.S. will see Season 4 starting on Masterpiece on January 5th. Coming off of the demise of Dan Stevens’ Matthew Crawley at the end of Season 3, Season 4 is set in the Roaring Twenties and adds a bevy of guest stars and new regulars. There’s no word yet on air dates for Season 5, but if the show sticks to tradition, it will go first in the UK next fall, followed by Masterpiece in January 2015. Neame promised “all …
EXCLUSIVE: Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens has been cast as Lancelot in Fox‘s Night At The Museum 3. This is a pivotal role in the film, which is set in London. Ben Stiller is expected to return as museum security guard Larry Daley and Robin Williams is in talks to return as Theodore Roosevelt. Shawn Levy is expected to return to the director’s chair in his signature franchise which has grossed north of $1 billion. Production is expected to begin early next year.
Stevens was just seen in The Fifth Estate, and next stars in Adam Wingard’s The Guest. He’s co-starring with Liam Neeson in A Walk Among The Tombstones for director Scott Frank.
Listen to (and share) episode 12 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch, with Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about Tom Hanks in London and Quentin Tarantino in Lyons; the trial of the century, for London journalists at least, as the phone-hacking case that killed The News of the World gets underway; a couple of big Shanghai surprises from Disney and DeNiro; and a classy and smart Spanish mini-series that might make a worthy successor to Downton Abbey.
UPDATED, 9:30 AM: Benedict Cumberbatch, fresh off his feature film flop The Fifth Estate, will return in the better-reviewed Sherlock starting January 19 in the 10 PM time slot following Downton Abbey, PBS announced this morning. In the UK, BBC has not yet announced Sherlock’s return date, but promises the three episodes will launch there before the PBS debut. PBS also confirmed Downton Abbey’s January 5 return. Scheduling Sherlock’s three 90-minute episodes to follow Downton, PBS said in its first-quarter scheduling news, “reinforces PBS’ move into 10 PM programming on several key nights.”
In this morning’s flurry of PBS announcements, the network made a special fuss over “Cumberbatch (The Fifth Estate, Star Trek Into Darkness) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, The Office UK) returning as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the contemporary reinvention of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic, created by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) and Mark Gatiss. In a separate announcement, Masterpiece exec producer Rebecca Eaton cooed, “The genius Sherlock team has done it again,” adding, “These people are GOOD!” The Fifth Estate, in which Cumberbatch received good reviews playing WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, has nonetheless gone into the books as having the worst opening weekend this year to date.
PBS also said it was announcing a number of new programs, though we’ve known for ages that American Masters had gotten its hands on the much-ballyhooed biopic Salinger. Anyway, in this morning’s announcement, PBS also says per Nielsen that its 2012-13 primetime programming saw an overall average ratings increase of 7% over the previous season and that PBS now ranks eighth among all broadcast and cable networks “in overall general audience content.” We’ll get back to when we figure out what PBS is talking about, and we advise you not to hold your breath while you wait for numbers. PBS also claimed this morning it is now surpassed, in this PBS metric, by only the four major broadcast networks, USA, Univision, and Disney — overtaking ESPN, History and TNT in the ratings. Previously, PBS says, it ranked No. 11.
PBS’s upcoming primetime schedule is, per usual, thick with Brit on Sundays, science and nature shows on Wednesday, and arts and performance programming on Fridays:
Andrew Bachelor has signed with UTA for representation in all areas. Bachelor, also known by the online moniker KingBach, is one of Vine’s most popular performers, with more than 3 million followers. He acts in, writes, directs and produces all of his own original material for his web series, King Bachelor’s Pad. Bachelor also just booked a recurring role on Showtime’s House of Lies and has a pilot in development at BET. He continues to be managed by Evan Silverberg at Underground.
Lesley Nicol, who plays the cook Mrs. Patmore on Downton Abbey, has signed with Bauman Redanty & Shaul. The actress, who has a voice role in Free Birds, continues to be managed by Lesa Kirk at Open Entertainment and by agent Paul Pearson of London Theatrical in the UK.
After facing its first drop of Season 4 last week, Downton Abbey was up again on Sunday night on the UK’s ITV1. The period drama’s fourth episode averaged 9.4M viewers, a 200K increase on last week’s installment. Episode 4 was 1M off the September 22nd premiere which was the show’s best debut across all seasons. Downton is now facing off against Homeland which started its third season on Channel 4 in the same 9 PM time slot last week. However, local reviews have not been strong and the series’ second episode averaged 1.94M viewers last night in what Broadcast says is the show’s lowest audience ever for Channel 4.
Global Showbiz Briefs: PBS Giving U.S. Peek At ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 4; Last Of ‘The Office’ Coming To Comedy Central UK; More
PBS To Air ‘Downton Abbey’ Recap/Preview Special Ahead Of Season 4
In an effort to appease anxious U.S. viewers, PBS is planning a behind-the-scenes special sneak peek at Downton Abbey‘s upcoming Season 4. The period drama is pulling record ratings on the UK’s ITV but doesn’t bow Stateside until January 5. So, on December 1, PBS will air Return To Downton Abbey, a recap of previous seasons and a look at the upcoming trials and tribulations of the Crawley clan. Susan Sarandon will host the special that’s set around three themes: The Changing World of Downton Abbey, The Women of Downton Abbey and Love and Other Relationships at Downton Abbey. Cast members interviewed include Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Shirley MacLaine, Sophie McShera and Laura Carmichael. Creator Julian Fellowes and exec producers Gareth Neame and Rebecca Eaton also take part.
Final Seasons Of U.S. ‘The Office’ Coming To Comedy Central UK
Comedy Central UK is bringing the final two seasons of the U.S. version of The Office to Britain. Under a deal with NBCU International TV Distribution, Seasons 8 and 9 will air on Comedy Central starting this month. The series, based on Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s original UK version, has been a staple of Comedy Central UK’s schedule and a strong performer.
Mipcom Briefs: Keshet’s ‘Rising Star’ In Russian Redo; ‘Dining With The Enemy’ In Canada; UK TV Exports Reach £1.2B; More
Keshet International‘s hot format Rising Star is headed to Russia. Broadcaster Rossiya 1, part of media group VGTRK, will air a local version of the interactive primetime show which France’s M6 acquired earlier this week. Keshet DCP, a joint venture with DC Media, is also shopping a U.S. version to American broadcasters. Keshet debuted a live screening of Rising Star from Israel last night in Cannes. The singing competition integrates home viewers who vote in real-time via an app that also posts their photos to the TV screen. The app has now been downloaded more than 1.2M times. The show is a big hit at home where it’s produced by Tedy Productions for Keshet Broadcasting.
Canada’s TV5 is prepping war-zone/foodie hybrid A Table Avec L’Ennemi, an adaptation of Norwegian format, Dining With The Enemy. The six-part series will be hosted by journalist and author Frédérick Lavoie and chef Charles-Antoine Crête. It will travel to conflict areas around the world including Mexico, Rwanda and Afghanistan, and see two representatives from opposing factions share a meal and discuss their views and vision of ongoing strife. “We forget that, in war zones or risk areas, life goes on. People try to live a normal life and their main concerns are much like ours… We hope the dinner table will serve as a meeting place, a place for dialogue and hope between two cultures”, says TV5 Programming Director Pierre Gang. Media Ranch president Sophie Ferron will produce with the series to air in fall 2014. Canadian production and distribtion outfit Media Ranch has an option to produce local adaptations of Dining With The Enemy in English-speaking Canada and the UK, and is in discussions on a Canada-U.S. co-production.
Last year, episode 3 of Downton Abbey‘s Season 3 pulled in 9.66M viewers on ITV1 for what was at the time the 3rd most-watched episode ever of the period drama in the UK. Season 4 so far hasn’t pulled in those numbers, and last night, the show’s 3rd episode of the new season saw a drop to 9.2M. That’s a 400K decrease on last week’s 9.6M. The season debut, on September 22nd, drew 9.5M viewers for the best UK premiere episode of the hit show’s run thus far. Downton had increased competition last night: it was up against Homeland in its Season 3 UK debut on Channel 4 which drew 2.2M viewers, according to The Guardian.
Listen to (and share) episode 8 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor and host David Bloom look at Downton Abbey’s big UK debut in Season 4; controversy around the Oscar Foreign-Language candidates, including India’s choice, The Good Road; Dalian Wanda Group’s massive movie-related projects in China and whether they’re real or just real estate; and Icon’s return to film distribution in a diminished field of UK competitors.
Downton Abbey’s long-awaited fourth season kicked off Sunday night in the UK with a 90-minute episode. Last year’s Season 3 debut episode on ITV1 drew 8.6M viewers, and this year’s first outing averaged 9.5M in the overnights, peaking at 10.5M viewers. It drew a 39.6% share. The Season 3 start was down 200K viewers from Season 2, but it still went on to become the show’s highest-rated season in the UK with consolidated ratings averaging 11.9M viewers for a 40% share. Season 3 of Downton also was PBS’ highest-rated drama ever with a total of 24M viewers, a 7.7 average and an average season audience of 11.5M. Season 4 settles into its 9PM Sunday night slot on ITV1 for seven more weeks and in December will return as usual with an extended Christmas episode. U.S. viewers will see the first Downton episode of Season 4 on January 5th on PBS. Season 4 picks up six months after the untimely death of Downton heir Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens). The focus of this new go-round for the period drama is how his widow, Lady Mary, is coping with the loss, and her efforts at rebuilding her life.
Hit period drama Downton Abbey kicks off its fourth season Sunday on ITV in the UK. States-bound folk will have to wait until Jaunary 5 for PBS to launch this next go-round in the trials and tribulations of the upstairs/downstairs crowd at the Crawley family estate. The new season starts six months on from the death of Downton heir Matthew Crawley. An important focus of the new season, exec producer Gareth Neame recently told Deadline, will be how Matthew’s widow, Lady Mary Crawley, deals with his passing and her future. Here’s a first look:
We already knew that Downton Abbey would return to PBS on January 5. Now we have an official UK air date. Season 4 of the hit period drama will kick off on ITV on September 22 at 9 PM in what will be the world premiere. As with last year, it will have X Factor UK as a lead-in. The Season 3 debut on September 16, 2012 drew 8.64M viewers, down about 200K from the previous season. However, overall Season 3 was the highest-rated season so far for the series with an average of 9.7M viewers. The show’s return is marked by the absence of Dan Stevens, whose Matthew Crawley character died in the Christmas special last year, and by the lack of Siobhan Finneran, whose O’Brien has also left the show. The rest of the Crawley clan and the below-stairs crew are returning along with Shirley MacLaine as Cora’s mother Martha Levinson. New this year, and for various stretches, are Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Kiri Te Kanawa, Harriet Walter, Nigel Harman, Joanna David, Gary Carr and Paul Giamatti. The first episode of Season 4 picks up six months following the death of Matthew. The “spine” of the season will be the fate of his widow, Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery), as she heads to the next stage of her life, exec producer Gareth Neame …
Here’s the international trailer for the next season — or “series”, for those in the UK — of the Emmy-nominated period drama. Here’s what you can expect from Year 4 of Downton Abbey: hugs and kisses, dancing and brawling, smile and scowls, lots and lots of meaningful glances, even advice on a life-or-death decision. All set to the Joy Formidable’s “Wolf’s Law”. As Lady Rose MacClare breathlessly offers, “Welcome to Downton.” Season 4 bows January 5 on PBS.
Listen to (and share) episode 3 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about what the creators of Downton Abbey have planned for Season 4; the record-breaking Bollywood hit Chennai Express and where it might roll next; whether Simon Cowell is truly ITV’s X factor; and last-minute dealmaking over the lucrative TV rights for the most important thing in Britain as English Premier League football kicks off.
Downton Abbey executive producer Gareth Neame says Season 4 of the hit period drama will demonstrate that the show “never sits back on its laurels. It shakes up and moves on.” Neame spoke with me ahead of a press screening today of the first episode of the new season which brings the action into the Roaring Twenties. The series picks up in 1922, six months after the death of Dan Stevens’ character Matthew Crawley, whose fatal car crash came in the last minutes of the Season 3 Christmas episode. The “spine” of next season will be the fate of his widow, Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery), as she heads to the next stage of her life, Neame tells me. It’s a “heavy situation to kick off with,” but it won’t be all brooding at the Grantham estate. The majority of the goings-on throughout the season will variously be “dramatic, comedic and romantic.” The audience is “still left reeling with the death of Matthew” as it comes to the new season, but Neame says he and Downton creator Julian Fellowes, “have always said that while it was clear we didn’t want to lose Dan, we weren’t able to persuade him (to stay) and so we rethought the whole thing. It was positive for the story.”
TCA: PBS Chief Paula Kerger Credits ‘Downton Abbey’ In Part For Ratings Spike; Series To Return January 5
Add PBS CEO Paula Kerger to the list of network chiefs not buying what NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt was selling at Summer TV Press Tour about Flat being the new Up, ratings-wise. PBS is up 5% in primetime this year versus last, Kerger noted this morning at the tour. A chunk of that increase comes from the whopping 26% ratings spike PBS is enjoying on Sundays, thanks largely to Downton Abbey – which, irony of ironies, is a property of NBCUniversal International. Downton, Kerger noted, clocked around 8 million viewers in its most recent run, which makes it PBS’ most watched scripted series ever and the second most watched program of any genre, behind only Ken Burns’ docu The Civil War. “We are living in a golden era of drama in television…Sunday night on public television has become a great night for drama,” Kerger gloated.
She thanked cable networks that once gave PBS stiff content competition for “pivoting” in their programming strategy which “left a big opening” for public broadcasting.