Downton Abbey Make Water Parody Charity Charge

The worldwide popularity of British ITV period drama Downton Abbey is such that a misplaced water bottle can provoke an unprecedented media storm, but those involved with the show have at least had the good grace to laugh at their unprofessionalism and turn it around into a campaign to benefit charity.

Downton Abbey promotional picture for fifth series, with modern bottle of water on mantelpieceThe show, which airs on PBS in the USA, released a promotional image for their upcoming 5th season recently but almost instantly was the subject of humour on social media, after it was found a modern plastic water bottle had been left in a shot supposed to depict an English manor in the 1920’s.

Since that time, though, the cast and crew of the show, preparing for an autumn 2014 release (January 2015 for PBS), have made their own fun of the mistake by posing with bottles to promote the international charity WaterAid.

A spokesperson for ITV said of the move: “After seeing the reaction the picture caused earlier this week, the cast and crew came up with the idea of turning some of this attention towards an issue around water that really matters. They hope that by posing for this picture they will be able to raise awareness and amplify the work of international charity – WaterAid.”

A spokesperson for Downton Abbey assured that there will be no more mistakes or chronological anomalies when the show comes back to air, adding: “It’s testament to the huge success of Downton that something like this makes headlines around the world. While the water bottle is in the uncropped version of a publicity photograph we can assure you that it will not be making an appearance on screen.”

At least the crew think that. The cast on the other hand:

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Downton Abbey Continues To Fifth Series

To little surprise of its many viewers, ITV‘s strong-performing period drama Downton Abbey has been confirmed for a fifth season, with the official announcement occurring on the weekend of its fourth season finale.

downton_abbey_telephoneThe recently-concluded season of the show is noted as drawing an 11.8m average viewership in the UK region, and attaining similar live figures in the USA whenever ‘new episodes’ are aired, next occurring in early 2014 on PBS for that fourth season.

ITV viewers will be the first amongst 220 territories to witness the next batch of episodes later that year. as the familiar structure of the series looks set to continue, as sole writer Julian Fellowes is once again recruited to return.

ITV’s ‘director of drama commissioning’ Steve November noted: “We are enormously happy to have Downton Abbey on ITV and we are delighted to be announcing this new series. With Julian [Fellowes] writing and Gareth [Neame] and Liz [Trubridge] producing, we know it will be as warm, witty, romantic and dramatic as previous series and we can’t wait to catch up with our favourite characters again.”

Executive producer Gareth Neame, the director of production company Carnival Films, added: “Audiences have enjoyed their regular Sunday evening visits back to Downton once  again this autumn and we are thrilled to produce a new series of the show next  year. We promise all the usual highs and lows, romance, drama  and comedy played out by some of the most iconic characters on television. All  the actors and makers of the show continue to be humbled by the extraordinary  audience response and want to take the show from strength to strength next year.”

PBS’ president/CEO Pauler Kerger added from an American perspective: “Like millions of other ‘Downton Abbey’ fans, I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Crawley family. We’re proud to be the home of this extraordinary entertaining series, and, along with our stations, we look forward to sharing Season 4 with US audiences.”

Continuing a run on TV screens which has so far lasted for 33 episodes since 2010 (not including an upcoming 2-hour Christmas special), the renewal ensures another year for the format at minimum, so how long will it be able to run for? Currently, the characters are only 91 years behind reality…

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Amazon Get Exclusive Downton Abbey Streaming Rights

Period drama Downton Abbey has been doing the rounds of streaming services lately, but now exclusive rights for the show have been snapped up by Amazon.

Dowton-abbeyThe online shopping company announced Friday that they have gained exclusive rights to season three of “Downton Abbey” for the Prime Instant video streaming service.

The British show that has struck a chord with US and worldwide viewers, can already be seen on Netflix, iTunes, and Hulu, but that will not be for long. The Amazon deal with PBS Distribution means they have rights to every show and season, including season 3,4 and a season 5 if produced.

“The series is consistently in our top most watched TV shows each week, making it the most popular TV series with Prime Instant Video customers, ever,” said Brad Beale, Director of Digital Video Content Acquisition for Amazon, in a statement.

Amazon announced the deal in a press release saying that season 1 and 2 of the show, “are the most watched TV seasons of all time on the service”, and they make it clear to Netflix and Hulu that they, “can no longer stream the series, no digital subscription service other than Prime Instant Video will offer any seasons of “Downton Abbey.” Prime Instant Video will continue to be the exclusive subscription home through Season 4 and, if produced, Season 5.”

Viewers can exclusively catch Downton Abbey on Amazon, when the deal becomes effective on June 18 of this year.

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Downton Abbey Released On DVD Before U.S. Season Finale

The third season of “Downton Abbey,” the popular show from the United Kingdom has been released on DVD here in the states–despite having three more episodes to air on PBS. For those viewers who cannot wait for the details about the location of Grantham’s missing dinner jacket or character deaths, they can simply head down to their local shopping mall and grab the DVD set for $50.

Downton-abbeyThe box set also includes an additional two hours of bonus material, including two features “Downton Abbey Behind the Scenes” and “Shirley MacLaine at Downton.” Of course those that were fans of the show when it began airing in the United Kingdom and before it made its stateside debut will probably already be aware of the story progression taking place in the third season.

Many cast members, including Hugh Bonneville who plays Lord Grantham say that show producers need to work on closing the international air-date gap. “The idea of fans all over the world trying not to ­reveal story lines is ­becoming increasingly impossible,” Bonneville said in an interview.  “It would make sense to give everyone a shorter release window, which would reduce piracy instantly.”

However PBS and its president Paula Kerger argue that the delay in airing season three in the United States was absolutely necessary to ensure the show did not have to compete with the onslaught of new programming that debuts during the fall season. Even with the delay the show has not struggled in the ratings and the debut of the third season drew 7.9 million viewers–which remains a primetime record for PBS.

In this increasingly ‘digital’ age, Downton Abbey was made available on iTunes prior to launching on PBS, as they secured first broadcasting rights. Season 3 of “Downtown Abbey” ends its run on PBS in February, however, those who can’t wait can simply buy the DVD box set and see the conclusion before then.

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Apple Prepare First US Broacast Of New Downton Abbey Episodes

ITV period drama Downton Abbey is presumably a fascinating subject in America due to its portrayal of a quintessentially English upper-class manor, but to get a chance to watch this premium content on the other side of the Atlantic, it looks as though a price will need to be paid, after it was revealed that for the first time ever, Apple’s online store iTunes will have first broadcasting rights to a TV show in the country.

downton_abbeyThe deal will see the final three episodes of Downton Abbey‘s season 3 become available on iTunes in North America before they are aired on regular network PBS next month (which is airing episodes weekly and still in-progress). The deal was confirmed yesterday (15 January) with an announcement from Apple, claiming that they are now offering a ‘season pass’ to Downton Abbey that includes the final three episodes of the run, all of which will be made available to download on 29 January, several weeks ahead of their PBS airdates starting on 17 February.

The Julian Fellowes-written show, set between 1912-1921, has been seen as a success in America, with 8 million watching the import’s season two finale on PBS (not quite matching up to season 3’s 12m average audience in the UK).

Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama is claimed to be one of the drama’s most notable fans, and used her influence to write to the channel directly and jump ahead of the spoilers, as an ITV source said of their request: “They were very polite and we were more than happy to sort out some DVDs for them to send over. Obviously we hope they keep the spoilers to themselves as our US fans may not know about… well, you know what!”

Having benefited from being iTunes’ best-selling TV series last year, will Downton Abbey‘s arrangement with Apple boost the technology company’s current inbalanced reputation with a new direction of broadcasting first-run content?

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