PBS sticking to split US-UK ‘Downton Abbey’ airing

LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer
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From left, Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Grantham, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham, Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley, Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley, Allen Leech as Tom Branson, Jim Carter as Mr. Carson, and Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes, from the TV series, "Downton Abbey." (AP Photo/PBS, Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE, Nick Briggs)

From left, Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Grantham, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham, Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley, Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley, Allen Leech as Tom Branson, Jim Carter as Mr. Carson, and Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes, from the TV series, “Downton Abbey.” (AP Photo/PBS, Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE, Nick Briggs)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — PBS is standing firm against airing “Downton Abbey” simultaneously with the drama’s U.K. season.

Despite the spoilers that leak online from its British run, the period drama has been a ratings hit for public TV, PBS chief executive Paula Kerger told the Television Critics Association on Tuesday.

“You kind of don’t want to mess with that if it’s working so well,” Kerger said.

Word-of-mouth from the British airing helps create buzz and promotion in advance of its PBS run, she said.

The show begins its fourth season in Britain this fall, with PBS airing it starting Jan. 5. It picks up after last season’s death of scion Matthew (Dan Stevens), heir to the English estate at the drama’s center. Newcomers include Paul Giamatti as an American relation.

Asked about rumors that the next season of “Sherlock” starring Benedict Cumberbatch might air at the same time in the United States and Britain, Kerger said the debut date has yet to be set.

The updated exploits of the Sherlock Holmes character has attracted the same “passion and enthusiasm” as “Downton,” she said, so PBS is considering its scheduling very carefully.

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