To those who might not be familiar with "Downtown Abbey," the popular British PBS series that first aired in the United States in 2010, it is a television series created byand produced in America through the PBS Masterpiece Classic program anthology. Although it is not an adaptation or taken from another source, it has become an instant “classic” among Masterpiece followers. Fellowes created the series specifically for television. Some 70 million American viewers watched the second season last year, and even more are expected to be glued to their televisions on Jan. 6, 2013, when the much-awaited third season premieres.
It is one of the most critically acclaimed television shows in history, with a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film, and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries. It is even in the Guinness World Records as the most acclaimed English-language television series for 2011 with 27 awards. It was the most watched television series on both sides of the Atlantic and became the most successful British period drams since 1981 television serial of "Brideshead Revisited."
Fans will not have to wait for 2014 for the fourth season, as the filming of eight new episodes for autumn 2013 release plus an extended special episode for airing on Christmas 2013 begins at Highclere Castle and Ealing Studies. With the third season firmly underway in January, the cast will begin filming in February for the next auspicious season.
The 2013 Christmas episode of "Downton Abbey" will be a two-hour show where the family goes to a Scottish estate - filmed at Inveraray Castle - to visit cousins, against a backdrop of deer stalking and shooting in the Highlands.
But many of their staff will have remained at Downton, and further dramas unfold in the family's absence, in the episode to be shown at 9 p.m.on Christmas Day 2013.
Laura Mackie, Director of Drama at ITV, said: “Last year’s special episode set the nation talking on Boxing Day and 2012's Christmas Day episode is no different. As ever, Downton will take its audience through a whole range of emotions. All of life's experiences will feature in this episode.
“This is one episode you will want to see live with millions of others - and best have the tissues ready.” More on this story at ITV Meridian.
Unfortunately, leaks are already on the Internet about a death in the family in the third season, but my lips are sealed!
As a follower of Masterpiece Theatre for all of my adult life, next to "Upstairs Downstairs" and "Poldark," "Downton Abbey" is definitely one of this writer’s favorites. It is history, romance, family struggles, intrigue and politics all combined in a beautiful recreation of Edwardian and post Edwardian life in England. The themes, however, are universal and like any great drama we look for ourselves in the flaws and integrity of the characters. Their loves, hate, remorse and redemption capture our imagination in the joy and tragedy of the human experience.
In "The Fragility of Goodness," the esteemed, Professor of Philosophy and Classics, writes, “the beauty of human excellence is its vulnerability.” And Fellowes has, indeed, created characters to love, but what is more he creates characters that are flawed, and we learn to try and understand them rather than hate them.
The Fragility of Goodness by Martha Nussbaum, Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge Press, 1997.