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Feature: BAFTA New York Joins PBS Masterpiece as it Kicks off 2014 with Season 4 of “Downton Abbey”

10 December 2013
BAFTA New York

BAFTA New York Joins PBS Masterpiece as it Kicks off 2014 with Season 4 of “Downton Abbey”

PBS Masterpiece along with a lucky group of BAFTA New York members enjoyed a special evening featuring the producers and cast of the BAFTA and multi-award winning series Downton Abbey. Set at the beginning of the 20th Century, Downton Abbey portrays the lives of the titled Crawley family and the cadre of servants who work for them. The new season premieres on PBS on Sunday, January 5, 2014.

More than 500 fans and members of the New York media industry filled the Hudson Theatre in Times Square on December 10, 2013 to enjoy a Sneak Preview of the first episode of the new season of Downton Abbey followed by a Q&A featuring Julian Fellowes (Series creator, writer and executive producer), Gareth Neame (Executive producer), Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith), Rob James-Collier (Thomas Barrow), Allen Leech (Tom Branson), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) and moderated by the New York Times’ Bill Carter.

While the cast and producers walked the Red Carpet at the Millennium Hotel next door, Beth Hoppe, PBS’ Chief Programming Executive, opened the evening by thanking the U.K. production company Carnival Films, sponsors Viking Cruises, Ralph Lauren and special guest BAFTA New York before turning the mic over to Rebecca Eaton, Masterpiece’s Executive Producer who regaled the audience with an extraordinary list of accolades Downton Abbey has garnered to make it the most popular show in PBS history. Ms. Eaton then introduced the show.

Bill Carter kicked off the panel by asking Julian Fellowes the question everyone wanted to know: “Why did Matthew have to die?” to which the emotive Fellowes apologized profusely as the audience laughed. He also told the theater guests that he and the cast were getting together with Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley) later in the week for drinks. Still friends. Gareth Neame talked about how surprised he was that the series had become a global phenomenon watched in 250 countries and Laura Carmichael spoke for the entire cast when she said that they were all “incredibly grateful to be a part of such a wonderful opportunity.” The highlights of the evening were the comedic wisecracks by Rob James-Collier about his character, Thomas; Leslie Nichols tales about being recognized at her local Costco and CVS in Los Angeles and Phyllis Logan admitting that she has to grow out her eyebrows every six months in order to stay employed. The horror of it all!

After the lively discussion, the panel joined the guests at a cocktail reception where they mingled amongst the crowd, graciously answered questions and posed for pictures with BAFTA New York and PBS members and their guests. All had a good time.

Photography: BAFTA/New York Seton Davey