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PBS Triumphs at the Emmys With 'Downton Abbey'

by Catherine Lawson, posted Sep 19th 2011 7:00AM
'Gosford Park' Emmy winnersLast night PBS period drama 'Downton Abbey' bagged four Emmy Awards, making it one of the biggest winners of the night, and helping PBS land the coveted spot of top broadcast network at the awards.

Together with the Creative Arts Emmys, which were held last week, PBS scooped 14 Emmys in total, making it the most successful broadcast network. HBO was the top cable network, with 19.

'Downton Abbey' won the Emmy for Outstanding Made For Television Movie/Miniseries, in what creator Julian Fellowes called a David and Goliath story, "except in this case Goliath was wonderful, some wonderful shows that we were up against, and it seems perfectly extraordinary that we've won."

The Masterpiece drama was victorious in a strong field dominated by Emmy powerhouse HBO, which had three nominations -- 'Mildred Pierce,' 'Too Big to Fail' and 'Cinema Verité.'

Rebecca Eaton, 'Downton Abbey' executive producer, said "HBO has tremendous marketing and advertising muscle behind it. This is about a show that stands on its merits and the Academy recognized that. I'm very proud of it."

Fellowes added that "None of us know what's going to be a hit, we make these shows, we hope for the best, but we don't know why sometimes it comes right and this evening is such a marvellous moment in all our lives because this evening it came right."

The Outstanding Made For Television Movie/Minieseries award is a new one, created by combining the previously separate Best Miniseries and Best Made-for-TV movie categories. The other nominees were 'The Kennedys' (Reelz Channel) and 'The Pillars of the Earth' (Starz).

Maggie Smith, who did not attend the ceremony, won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or A Movie for her work playing aristocratic gorgon, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. 'Downton Abbey' director Brian Percival also took home a trophy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.

Fellowes, who won an Oscar in 2002 for his 'Gosford Park' script, also won an Emmy last night. In his acceptance speech he joked that "When we were in the hotel a bit earlier, my wife said to me, 'I think we should just relax and enjoy the evening, because I don't think we're going to win'. Well, we're going to enjoy the evening now."

'Downton Abbey' has been a smash hit in the U.K., where the second season premiered last night to strong ratings. It went head-to-head against the final season premiere of 'MI-5' and garnered an estimated 10 million viewers, which was double the size of the 'MI-5' audience.

The drama has been sold to 200 countries and was recently awarded a Guinness World record for attracting the highest critical ratings for a TV show. Eaton said she hoped last night's Emmy triumph would now bring it a lot more attention in the U.S.

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I was thrilled that Downton Abbey got the recognition it deserves. The first season had sumptuous sets, gorgeous fashions and it was beautifully acted by all involved and that all made it a mesmerizing series. In her portrayal as the Countess of Grantham, Maggie Smith was everything one would imagine a Dowager to be during that time period so she certainly deserved her Emmy as well. I can't wait for Season 2!

One head-scatcher for me though, and it's probably a minus 5 to most, but I wondered why, in both of his acceptance speeches, Julian Fellowes thanked "NBC". BBC, ITV or PBS I could understand, but why NBC?

September 19 2011 at 3:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Melanie Egan

Very glad to see this! It was one of my favorite series on tv last season and will be downloading the new season as it comes out because I can't wait for PBS to show their version next year. lol

September 19 2011 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Too Big to fail was messy.

September 19 2011 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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