Is “Downton” creating online pirates?

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Obsessive Downton Abbey fans are turning into programming pirates, reports Salon, poking around in what it calls “some dark corner of the Internet” to find episodes that have already run on Britain’s ITV but not yet on Masterpiece. When the writer of the piece, John Sellers, confessed to Downton actor Hugh Bonneville (the Earl of Grantham) that he’d watched the Downton Christmas special online, Bonneville replied: “I wish you hadn’t told me you watched it illegally. That’s really pissing me off. Shame on you. Be ashamed.” PBS viewers are still awaiting that episode, which is set to air in February.

Sellers spoke to Rebecca Eaton, Masterpiece e.p., about the delay between the original airing overseas and when Downton hits PBS. “ITV is a commercial station, they have ads, and their shows have to be reformatted to fit the Masterpiece time slots,” she said. “And Masterpiece, every year, has to avoid certain weeks because of pledge. It’s a puzzle of where to fit programs in here.” She does hope that turnaround time may be shortened, but predicted that fans would still complain about not being able to watch episodes the same time as the Brits. “If they aired a day later,” she said, “illegal pirating would be going on.”

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