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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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.
It’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 Maggie 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.