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Official: Damian Lewis To Play Henry VIII In BBC/Masterpiece’s ‘Wolf Hall’; More Cast

By | Thursday May 8, 2014 @ 7:40am PDT

damian-lewisMasterpiece has just confirmed that erstwhile Homeland star Damian Lewis will play Henry VIII opposite Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in upcoming miniseries Wolf Hall. The adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize winning historical fiction novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies is a Company Pictures and Playground co-production for BBC Two and Masterpiecewolf-hall. Peter Kosminsky (White Oleander) is directing the six-part drama from a script by Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). The story charts Cromwell’s meteoric rise from lowly blacksmith’s son to Henry VIII’s closest advisor. Deadline reported in January that Lewis was in talks to play the Tudor King. The confirmed roster of actors now includes Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn; Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey; Joanne Whalley as Katherine of Aragon; Sherlock‘s Mark Gatiss as Stephen Gardiner, Secretary to the King; Anton Lesser as Thomas More; Mathieu Amalric as Ambassador of Spain; Charity Wakefield as Mary Boleyn; Jessica Raine as Jane Rochford; Bernard Hill as the Duke of Norfolk; Richard Dillane as the Duke of Suffolk; Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Cromwell’s ward Rafe Sadler; Natasha Little as Cromwell’s wife Liz; and Saskia Reeves as her sister Johane.

Shooting has started in the southwest of England for air in 2015 on PBS’ Masterpiece and on BBC Two. Colin Callender will exec produce for Playground, John Yorke for Company Pictures, … Read More »

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Damian Lewis In Talks For BBC/Masterpiece Miniseries ‘Wolf Hall’

By | Friday January 31, 2014 @ 9:00am PST

damian lewisErstwhile Homeland star Damian Lewis could step into the role of King Henry VIII in BBC Two and Masterpiece‘s major adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize winning historical fiction novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. Mark Rylance is playing Thomas Cromwell in the six-part serial and Deadline has confirmed that Lewis is in talks for the role of the Tudor King. A deal is not yet closed. The Daily Mail first reported word of the “complex negotiations.” Lewis is currently filming Werner Herzog’s Queen Of The Desert with Nicole Kidman. The Wolf Hall project is due to start shooting in the spring. It follows Cromwell’s rise from the lowly son of a blacksmith to becoming Henry’s closest advisor. BAFTA-winning helmer Peter Kosminsky is directing from a script by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s Peter Straughan. Wolf Hall is a co-production from Company Pictures, Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment, and Masterpiece for BBC Two in association with BBC Worldwide.

Related: Masterpiece Boards BBC2′s ‘Wolf Hall’ & ‘Bring Up The Bodies’

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‘Downton Abbey’ Hits Series High With Season 4 Debut

By | Monday January 6, 2014 @ 1:43pm PST

Downton Abbey Ratings Season 4 Premiere PBSThere was mourning, the expected intrigue, dancing and  looming change both upstairs and downstairs last night on the Season 4 premiere of Downton Abbey on PBS. There were also a lot of people watching: Airing at 9 PM, the two-hour episode, which is set in 1922 and takes place six months after the sudden death of Downton heir Matthew Crawley, pulled in 10.2 million viewers. That’s up 22% from the Season 3 debut and a series high for the show, eclipsing the previous record of the Season 3 finale on PBS last February. The third season of the British aristocratic period drama debuted on January 6, 2013, to 7.9 million viewers, which was a strong leap from the 4.2 million who watched the second-season launch on January 9, 2012. Even before this latest cycle started, Downton Abbey has been the highest-rated drama in PBS history.

Related: ‘Downton Abbey’ Gets Fifth Season Order

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Hot TV Teaser: ‘Downton Abbey’ Christmas Special

By | Saturday December 7, 2013 @ 5:35am PST

Mild Spoiler Alert…
Although Downton Abbey‘s fourth season doesn’t begin airing in the U.S. for another few weeks, the regular UK season wrapped last month and the Christmas special is now nearly here. As is custom, the episode will air over two hours on Britain’s ITV on December 25th. It will air Stateside at the end of S4′s Masterpiece run which begins January 5th. The teaser below offers a glimpse of Shirley MacLaine in her return as Cora’s mother Martha Levinson, and of Paul Giamatti as Cora’s brother Harold. While not terribly spoilerish, those who’ve seen nothing of the fourth season may want to think twice before clicking play.

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Hot TV Teaser: ‘Death Comes To Pemberley’

Laurence Olivier did it, and so did Colin Firth. Now it’s Matthew Rhys‘ turn to portray Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy. Rhys is playing the iconic character in Death Comes To Pemberley, a three-part mini that unspools on BBC One in the UK over three days beginning December 26th. The suspense drama will then make its way to PBS’ Masterpiece in 2014. Based on P.D. James’ novel which revisits Austen’s most iconic characters, Pemberley also stars Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennett, Matthew Goode as George Wickham and Doctor Who‘s Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham. The story picks up six years into Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage as they prepare for their annual ball. When Lydia arrives, she brings a shocking halt to the proceedings and a murder investigation ensues:

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‘Downton Abbey’ Gets Fifth Season Order

By and | Sunday November 10, 2013 @ 2:35pm PST

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 … Read More »

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Masterpiece Boards BBC2′s ‘Wolf Hall’ & ‘Bring Up The Bodies’ Tudor-Era Mini

By | Sunday October 13, 2013 @ 2:10am PDT

BBC Two and Masterpiece are hooking up for a “major” adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize winning historical fiction novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. Tony and Olivier Award-winner Mark Rylance is now confirmed to play Thomas Cromwell in the six-part serial that follows Cromwell’s rise from the lowly son of a blacksmith to becoming King Henry VIII’s closest advisor in the Tudor court. BAFTA-winning helmer Peter Kosminsky is directing from a script by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s Peter Straughan. Wolf Hall is a co-production from Company Pictures, Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment, and Masterpiece for BBC Two in association with BBC Worldwide.

The project was first tipped in 2011 as a four-part adaptation of just 2009’s Wolf Hall, but in 2012, Mantel’s second book in the Cromwell trilogy, Bring Up The Bodies, won her a second Booker prize and the miniseries will combine the two under the Wolf Hall title. Both have been best-sellers and gave Mantel the rare distinction of winning two Bookers, the UK’s highest literary honor. Shooting starts in spring 2014 for an as-yet determined airdate on BBC Two in the UK and Masterpiece in the U.S. in 2015. Read More »

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ITV’s ‘Breathless’ Catches 3.7M Viewers In UK Debut

By | Friday October 11, 2013 @ 5:19am PDT

Sixties-set medical drama Breathless premiered on ITV1 in the UK on Thursday night with 3.7M viewers (including +1s) for a 17.5% share in the overnights. That was consistent with the slot average and was enough for the show to top other entries at 9 PM. Co-produced by ITV Studios and Masterpiece, the six-part drama about a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital draws inevitable comparisons to Mad Men given the stylish period look – not to mention the tag line, “Perfect lives built on lies.” It kicks off in 1961 and focuses on the changing roles of women at a time when abortion was still illegal, the contraceptive pill was only just available to married women and moral codes were shifting. Breathless is co-created, written and exec produced by Paul Unwin who was in Cannes at the Mipcom TV market earlier this week to talk up the series along with stars Jack Davenport and Zoe Boyle. The trio agreed with the oft-touted notion that today’s is a Golden Age of television, and especially for British period drama. A veteran of shows like Casualty and Shameless, Unwin credited Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes with opening things up, especially for showrunners. Davenport, who also starred in NBC’s Smash, also cited HBO for fostering more ambitious and nimble telvision. If Breathless hits its mark, the storyline could carry on to 1968. … Read More »

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Hot TV Teaser: ‘Breathless’

ITV Studios and Masterpiece teamed to co-produce Breathless, the upcoming six-part drama about a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital in the 1960s. Jack Davenport leads an ensemble cast that includes Game Of Thrones‘ Iain Glen, Downton Abbey‘s Zoe Boyle and Natasha Little (Kidnap And Ransom). The series is set in a busy gynecology unit in 1961, a time when abortion was still illegal, the contraceptive pill only just available to married women and moral codes were shifting. Breathless was co-created and written by Paul Unwin (Shameless). Unwin, Rebecca Eaton and Kate Bartlett are exec producers. ITV starts airing it on October 10 and will trot out some of the key players at next week’s Mipcom; no U.S. airdate has been set:

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PBS Orders Second Season of ‘Mr. Selfridge’

PBS has purchased a second season of Mr. Selfridge, starring Jeremy Piven as the American entrepreneur who founded UK’s Selfridge department store. The second season will air on PBS’s Masterpiece Classic franchise in ’14. PBS says the first season was sampled by 15 million viewers over its eight episodes; each episode averaged about 4 million viewers. In today’s announcement, Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton said, “It is clear from our audience’s reaction that they want more of Harry Selfridge, his family and department store shopping!” Not so much the TV Academy, which last week gave Mr. S just one Emmy nom for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series. One year earlier, the academy gave the Masterpiece Classic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations  five noms. And, of course, the academy showered Downton Abbey with 13 noms this year, though that’s far fewer than the noms with which it had feted the first season of Downton, when it competed as a miniseries. Maybe Mr. Selfridge entered the wrong Emmy race?

But Mr. Selfridge  counts among its corporate sponsors the Ralph Lauren Corporation, which became a Masterpiece sponsor last year. A series about fashion is right in its wheelhouse. Did you know Ralph Lauren clothing is available at Selfridges?  Currently filming in the UK, the second season of Mr Selfridge picks up the story in 1914, as the store celebrates its fifth anniversary in … Read More »

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Masterpiece To Co-Produce ITV Medical Drama ‘Breathless’

By | Wednesday June 19, 2013 @ 4:18pm PDT

Masterpiece is re-teaming with ITV Studios to co-produce Breathless, the upcoming six-part drama about a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital in the 1960s. Jack Davenport leads an ensemble cast that includes Game Of Thrones‘ Iain Glen, Downton Abbey‘s Zoe Boyle and Natasha Little (Kidnap And Ransom). The series is set in a busy gynecology unit in 1961, a time when abortion was still illegal, the contraceptive pill only just available to married women and moral codes were shifting. Shooting started in April. No U.S. or UK air date has been set. Read More »

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ITV Orders Four More ‘Endeavour’ Movies

By | Wednesday June 5, 2013 @ 4:40am PDT

From Downton Abbey to Mr. Selfridge to Broadchurch, the UK’s ITV has been enjoying a successful run of original drama series. Looking to continue the trend, the network has just ordered a second four-part outing for Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour, starring Shaun Evans and Roger Allam. A feature-length first episode of the crime drama debuted on ITV in 2012 and was co-produced by Masterpiece in the U.S. The film was one of ITV’s highest performing dramas of the year. A first four-part series then aired in 2013 and consistently won its time slot for ITV, averaging 7M viewers and a 25% share. The new series will be a quartet of 120 minute films set in 1966. Evans plays a young Morse and Allam is Detective Inspector Fred Thursday. Russell Lewis writes the series and novelist Colin Dexter, who created Morse, is a consultant to producers Mammoth Screen. Lewis will also exec produce with Mammoth’s Michele Buck and Damien Timmer. Camille Gatin is producer with directors still to be named. Production stars in Oxford later this year.

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‘Downton Abbey’ Season 4 To Bow Jan. 5

By | Tuesday May 14, 2013 @ 7:50am PDT

PBS has scheduled the eight-week run of the hit English period drama to run through the end of February, Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton said today during the PBS Annual Meeting. Downton Abbey is the highest-rated drama in PBS history after its third-season finale drew 8.2 million viewers on February 17, a 50% increase from the Season 2 ender. The timeframe for the PBS airdates falls similar to last year, coming after the fall run of the series on ITV in the UK. The big ratings bumps in the U.S. were notable given the high-stakes spoilers that were parading around the Internet while the show was airing across the pond ahead of its U.S. broadcast. ITV doesn’t announce its schedule until a couple of weeks before shows debut, but a September run there is likely again for the Carnival/Masterpiece co-production.

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Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Masterpiece’ Memoir; Endemol & AMC Pact On Non-Scripted; ‘Draw It’ In UK; ‘Boys In Trees’

Rebecca Eaton To Pull The Curtain Back On Masterpiece
Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton will publish a memoir this fall. Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind The Scenes Of Masterpiece Theatre And Mystery! PBS releases October 29 via Viking in the U.S. Eaton has presided over PBS’ Masterpiece, which airs such British and international hits as Downton Abbey and Sherlock, for 25 years. Eaton says, “As an Anglophile who loves books and great acting, I’ve had the perfect job.” For the book, she interviews actors, writers, directors and producers and is expected to share stories about Downton’s Maggie Smith, Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Radcliffe whose first TV role was as the title character in David Copperfield. Under Eaton’s leadership, Masterpiece has earned 44 Emmy Awards, 15 Peabody Awards, four Golden Globes, and two Oscar nominations. She’s writing the book with Patricia Mulcahy. Read More »

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BBC Worldwide America & PBS’ ‘Masterpiece’ Team Up For ‘The Paradise’ & ‘The Lady Vanishes’

By | Tuesday October 9, 2012 @ 12:00am PDT

A new co-production deal between BBC Worldwide America and Masterpiece will see two more U.K. titles coming to PBS. The Paradise is a rags-to-riches Victorian Era drama series set in Britain’s first department store. The Lady Vanishes is a 90-minute adaptation of the 1938’s Alfred Hitchcock thriller about a woman who gets caught up in a mysterious and menacing case of a missing person. The arrangement to bring the two shows to American audiences was put together by Jemma Adkins, Senior VP Sales and Co-Productions for BBC Worldwide America. Rebecca Eaton is the executive producer of Masterpiece, presented by WGBH Boston.

The Paradise stars What Maisie Knew’s Joanna Vanderham, Prometheus’ Emun Elliott, Upstairs Downstairs’ Sarah Lancashire and Game of Thrones’ Patrick Malahide. The Paradise is written and created by Bill Gallagher. Simon Lewis is producing with Susan Hogg as executive producer. Gallagher and Hogg worked together on the costume drama series Lark Rise to Candleford. The Lady Vanishes producer Annie Tricklebank also worked on Lark Rise to Candleford. The TV film is directed by Diarmuid Lawrence and written by Fiona Seres. The Lady Vanishes’ executive producer is Anne Pivcevic. The cast includes Upstairs Downstairs’ Keeley Hawes, Spooks’ Gemma Jones and The Hour’s Julian Rhind-Tutt.

RELATED: Global Showbiz Briefs: BBC ‘Lady Vanishes’: eOne in South Korea

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EMMYS: PBS’ ‘Downton Abbey’

By | Friday June 1, 2012 @ 11:40pm PDT

Downton Abbey Producers
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage

AwardsLineIt’s been 100 years since the Titanic sank but less than a year since a TV event that kicked off with that very disaster, Downton Abbey, took the Emmy Awards by storm last September. Relatively unheralded and on unsexy PBS, Downton Abbey managed to launch its own British invasion in claiming six trophies (including top movie/miniseries as well as the supporting work of Dame Downton AbbetMaggie Smith.) The show about the lives of English aristocrats and servants in the early part of the 20th century seemingly became a pop culture phenomenon the instant it arrived on our shores, demonstrating again that the Brits do period drama better than anyone else.

But in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? world of the primetime Emmys, Downton (a co-production of NBCUniversal’s Carnival Films in the UK and PBS affiliate WGBH/Boston) is about to find out how the other half really lives. Because it’s no longer a miniseries but a plain old drama series in its second season, it won’t be competing for Emmys this time with longform projects like HBO’s Mildred Pierce, Too Big to Fail and Cinema Verité as it did in 2011, but instead against American TV’s real aristocracy, which will include some combination of AMC’s Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Killing, Showtime’s Homeland and HBO’s Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. That’s assuming, of course, that Downton earns second invitation to the party as it’s expected to. Read More »

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PBS’ ‘Masterpiece’ Nets $1M Donation

By | Wednesday March 28, 2012 @ 8:21pm PDT

Downton Abbey DonationDownton Abbey has generated plenty of fans for PBS’ Masterpiece, which has rejuvenated the franchise with two stellar seasons and a Best Movie/Miniseries Emmy win last year. But PBS said today that the Masterpiece franchise has one really big fan: San Diego philanthropist  Darlene Shiley is giving $1 million to the Masterpiece Trust, an initiative that launched last year to aid in funding after the series lost its main sponsor Exxon Mobil in 2004 (Masterpiece since has found a new sponsor). Shiley previously gave $250,000 to the cause. Season 3 of ITV’s Downton Abbey is shooting now, though it won’t appear on PBS in the U.S. until January 2013. The series about the lives of a wealthy family and the servants who work for them will compete in the Best Drama Series Emmy category this year.

Related: High-End Dramas Like ‘Downton Abbey’ Expected To Get UK Tax Break

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‘Masterpiece,’ ‘Downton Abbey’ Boost PBS Fortunes: TCA

By | Thursday January 5, 2012 @ 2:56pm PST

TCA: PBS Chief Paula Kerger Plays Defense Over Programming

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton positively beamed at critics this afternoon during a lunchtime panel promoting the PBS series of British productions. Ratings for the series were up by nearly a third in 2011, Eaton reported. The numbers for women aged 25-64 were “double what they usually are,” she added. “And we generated critical praise that you just can’t buy.” Also key was the record 25 Emmy nominations racked up by the series last year and, at the same time, the reception accorded the Masterpiece miniseries Downton Abbey that returns for its second season beginning this Sunday. (A third season of 10 hours has also been announced, to air on PBS stations in 2013; it begins shooting in February.) Downton in September not only won four Emmys — recognized as top movie/mini as well as for writing, directing and the supporting acting of Maggie Smith — but also brought the pubcaster a burst of critical recognition during a time in Washington when government funding of public broadcasting was suddenly in peril. One could even go so far as to say that Downton Abbey helped to save PBS, though Eaton wouldn’t go quite that far this afternoon.

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