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Sunday, January 9 at 9 p.m. Masterpiece "Downton Abbey"

(Rochester, NY) Masterpiece's 40th season premieres on WXXI-TV/HD with Downton Abbey, an Edwardian spellbinder created by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park). The four 90-minute episodes air Sundays, January 9 through January 30, at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11). Starring Hugh Bonneville (Notting Hill), Maggie Smith (Harry Potter), Elizabeth McGovern (A Room with a View), Dan Stevens (Sense & Sensibility) and a country-house full of other great actors, the miniseries set audience records during its recent UK broadcast and was hailed as “a sumptuous, instantly riveting glimpse of a world—and family—on the verge of profound change” by the London Daily Telegraph.

Downton Abbey is truly a ‘Masterpiece’ and the perfect program to begin the celebration of our 40th season,” says Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton. “It’s a grand story with an excellent script, full of memorable characters, played out in a gorgeous setting. That’s the Masterpiece tradition. And for so many of us who have grown up with it, that tradition is the drama of our lives.”

The plot of Downton Abbey is straight out of Jane Austen, updated to the era that introduced electric lights and telephones. It is 1912. The Titanic has just gone down in the north Atlantic, taking with it the two male heirs to Downton Abbey, whose current Lord Grantham has only daughters—albeit marriageable ones. His nearest male relative is a handsome lawyer—a bachelor—living in Manchester, who soon learns the ropes of managing a sprawling country estate, with its army of devoted, sometimes bickering servants, its hunts, garden parties, and sexual intrigues.

In its depiction of the intertwined lives of servants and aristocrats, Downton Abbey recalls one of television’s most beloved programs, Upstairs Downstairs, which aired on Masterpiece (then Masterpiece Theatre) in the 1970s. One of the thrills of Masterpiece’s 40th season is a new three-part Upstairs Downstairs with a new cast of characters set in the same house at 165 Eaton Place, taking the story from 1936 to the outbreak of World War II.

Caption: Created by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), “Downton Abbey” depicts the lives of the noble Crawley family and the staff who serve them, set at their Edwardian country house in 1912. Featuring an all-star cast, including Hugh Bonneville (Masterpiece Classic “Miss Austen Regrets”), Dame Maggie Smith (Harry Potter) and Elizabeth McGovern.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Masterpiece

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