Downton e.p. speaks out on PBS’s fall premiere schedule

By Dru Sefton

Downton Abbey Executive Producer Gareth Neame tells Entertainment Weekly that PBS’s decision to delay the season opener of Masterpiece Classic hit from September, when it airs in England, to January is “unrealistic” — yet “sensible and pragmatic.” (Here’s the interview, with this spoiler alert warning: If you haven’t yet watched the Season 3 finale that aired Sunday, back away now because he talks about it in detail.)

Here’s what Neame specifically said about PBS’s scheduling decision, which is still being debated at headquarters in Crystal City:

“[T]the idea that in this day and age people have to wait four months before watching a show that has aired in another part of the world is clearly unrealistic. I think this is one of the first really big test cases that just shows this doesn’t work.

“Now all of that said, this is not a complaint about PBS and their programming, because they have very, very tough competition and by airing in January, as you may have observed from the ratings . . . in terms of just regular Sunday night viewing, I think the only network show that beats us is The Good Wife.

“Now that means PBS is massively punching above its weight to beat all the networks and if you were to go in September like it does in England, then you probably would have much stiffer competition against the networks. So I think they’re being sensible and pragmatic in their programming.”

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