Eight, Arizona PBS debuts dramatic Downtown Abbey Season 5

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PHOENIX — (November 13, 2014) Downton Abbey, the highest-rated drama in PBS history, returns to Eight, Arizona PBS for an epic fifth season of intimately interlaced stories centered on an English country estate, featuring guests stars Richard E. Grant (Girls), Anna Chancellor (The Hour) and Rade Sherbedgia (24), Sunday, January 4 at 8 p.m.
“Between the sensational, emotional and dramatic storylines and the beloved flair of early 20th-century England, our viewers eagerly await every new season of Downton Abbey,” says Nancy Southgate, Eight’s associate general manager of content. “We’re excited to roll out Season 5, featuring the talent of new faces and original plots that will keep fans glued to the screen every Sunday.”

Season 5 opens with the dangling strings of last season, including Lady Mary’s courtship contest, Lady Edith’s trials as a secret single mom, Thomas’s scheming against Bates, Robert’s battles against modernity, Tom’s quest to be true to his ideals, Violet’s one-line zingers and much, much more.

From the wrenching consequences of the Titanic disaster in Season 1 to a notorious automobile accident at the end of Season 3—plus World War I, women’s rights, and the new morals, inventions, and fashions of the 1920s, Downton Abbey continuously explores the power of change.

Season 5 kicks off in 1924, in the midst of dramatic changes in the United Kingdom. The nation has its first Labor Party prime minister, the radio is the latest miracle of the age and Downton’s traditional ways are besieged on all fronts, as evidenced by this exchange between the head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, and the butler, Mr. Carson:
“We’re catching up, Mr. Carson. Whether you like it or not, Downton is catching up with the times we live in,” says the forward-thinking Mrs. Hughes.

“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of!” the butler retorts.

The new season also features returning stars Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, Allen Leech, Robert James-Collier, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Lily James, Brendan Coyle, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Samantha Bond, Ed Speleers, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, David Robb, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Daisy Lewis, Douglas Reith, Jeremy Swift, and Andrew Scarborough.
This acclaimed ensemble is joined by guest stars Harriet Walter (Atonement), reprising her role as Lady Shackleton, and Peter Egan (Death at a Funeral), who returns as Lord Flintshire.

“Four wonderful seasons of Downton Abbey, each drawing a larger audience than the last, and now Series 5,”says Masterpiece Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton. “This is a television dream come true!”
The series’ many honors include ten Emmys, two Golden Globes and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Season 4 received 12 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series.

Eight will continue the exciting premiere night of Season 5 with Masterpiece Special: The Manners of Downton Abbey, hosted by on-set historian Alastair Bruce, airing Sunday, January 4 at 9 p.m. This fascinating one-hour documentary follows Bruce, the maestro of period manners and historical accuracy, as he helps the Downton Abbey cast and crew recreate the social behaviors of early-1900s Britain. Cast members Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery reveal what it’s like to inhabit characters from a different era, giving fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of the series. The Manners of Downton Abbey is a Carnival Films, Chocolate Media and Masterpiece Co-Production.

About Masterpiece
Masterpiece is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston. Rebecca Eaton is Executive Producer. Funding for the series is provided by Viking River Cruises and Ralph Lauren Corporation with additional support from public television viewers and contributors to The MASTERPIECE Trust, created to help ensure the series’ future.

About Carnival Films
Carnival Films is a division of NBCUniversal International Television Production and the UK’s largest drama specialist, responsible for global TV sensation Downton Abbey, winner of two Golden Globes and ten Primetime Emmy Awards, and the most nominated non-US show in the history of the Emmys with a total of 51 nominations. Founded in 1978, Carnival has produced over 500 hours of popular drama including acclaimed mini-series Traffik, Dracula, Poirot, The Hollow Crown, David Hare’s political thriller Page Eight, BAFTA award winning Any Human Heart, Whitechapel and Hotel Babylon. Downton Abbey is executive produced by Carnival’s Managing Director, Gareth Neame. In 2011, Carnival was recognized as Best UK Production Company at the Bulldog Awards and named Best Production Company at the 2012 Broadcast Awards. Production on a new series, The Last Kingdom, for BBC America, based on Bernard Cornwell’s “The Saxon Stories” will begin later this year.

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