Back to ‘Downton Abbey’

(Above: Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery. Source: ‘Downton Abbey’ movie trailer on YouTube)

Downton Abbey, arguably the most successful series in PBS history, returns September 20 – in movie theaters only. But PBS – and its Masterpiece franchise – will be busy riding the film’s promotional coattails.

Take this Sunday’s Downton Abbey Live!, airing for 90 minutes at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT.

In front of a studio audience, host Deborah Roberts (ABC News) is scheduled to be joined by Abbey cast members Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore), Kevin Doyle (Molesley), Harry Hadden-Paton (Bertie), and Michael C. Fox (Andrew Parker). Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) and Abbey creator/writer Julian Fellowes will appear via taped interviews, as will Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), at least according to the show’s trailer:

Speaking of Julian Fellowes, the writer/director’s recent feature film The Chaperone, starring Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey’s Lady Grantham) in another period piece set in the 1920s, has started streaming on both PBS Passport (free to PBS station members) and PBS Masterpiece, the Amazon Prime add-on channel ($5.99/month).

McGovern plays the escort of the teenage Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson), who travels to New York to study dance. (Brooks would go on to become a rebellious silent film star and sex icon; for that part of her life, we highly recommend free streams of the real Brooks in two 1929 classics: Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl.)

New to Downton Abbey? You have plenty of time before the movie comes out to binge the original series, which tells the soapy, yet engrossing, story of an aristocratic British family and its servants from 1912 to 1926.

Among myriad honors, Downton Abbey won a dozen Emmy awards, including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie for its first season, and individual honors for Fellowes, Maggie Smith (three Supporting Actress awards for playing Dowager Countess Violet Crawley), and composer John Lunn (two Emmys). Lunn will perform live piano arrangements of the show’s themes on Sunday’s special.

All 52 episodes of Downton Abbey, which ran six seasons from 2011 to 2016 in the US, can be streamed by both PBS members via Passport and by Amazon Prime subscribers.

The new film takes place in 1927. The King and Queen are coming to Downton Abbey:  

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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