Downton Abbey creator calls PBS delay in season scheduling ‘madness’

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Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has weighed in on PBS’s decision to delay airing the Masterpiece megahit for months after each season premieres in Britain. And as his countryfolk might say, he is cheesed off.



“I want to have simultaneous transmission in America and Britain,” he tells the Telegraph of London. “The difficulty that we have is that people are discussing the series as it happens online before America’s seen it and on the internet we’re all in the same company. It’s madness.”

Then he adds: “It’s what I’d like, but who cares what I think?”

Scheduling Downton is a tricky subject for PBS. The blockbuster costume drama has always premiered in January on PBS, two months after the British airing. President Paula Kerger revealed in January 2013 that the pubcaster was pondering shifting the season premiere to the fall, but that would have pitted the series against new network shows for viewers’ attention. Earlier this year, Kerger said PBS had decided to stick with its winter date.

Jan McNamara, PBS spokesperson, told Current that the January premiere date works well, pointing to the show’s record ratings among PBS dramas, its social-media engagement, and the “pop-culture icon status” that Downton has achieved. “With all that in mind, we feel the schedule has been successful,” McNamara said.

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