Masterpiece: 50 Fabulous Years!

November 24, 2020

Characters from Masterpiece Series: Poldark, a man in 18th century clothes and long dark hair; a young woman portraying Queen Victoria, wearing regal red robe and tiara; a pale man in grey suit depicting the character Endeavour.Masterpiece: 50 Fabulous Years! premieres Monday, November 30 at 9 p.m. on WLIW21.

Masterpiece isn’t old, it’s only 50. But in television, that makes the iconic PBS series a legend in its time.

Originally called Masterpiece Theatre, the series began its 50-year run on January 10, 1971, to become the longest-running, most perennially watched weekly primetime drama series in American television history. With riveting stories, fabulous performances, magnificent costumes and astonishing ability to transport viewers to another time and place, Masterpiece has won 83 Primetime Emmys® and 18 Peabody Awards, seven Golden Globes and two Oscars.

From Upstairs Downstairs and I, Claudius to The Jewel in the Crown and Downton Abbey, Masterpiece has stood the test of time and introduced generations of PBS viewers to British drama.

Hosted by award-winning actor and author Alan Cumming, Masterpiece: 50 Fabulous Years! will run 90 minutes and features in-depth interviews with Robin Ellis, who starred as the original Poldark and who made an appearance in the current series; Sir Derek Jacobi, who starred in the title role of I, Claudius (and was most recently seen in Last Tango in Halifax; and Phyllis Logan, best known to Americans for her portrayal of Mrs. Hughes on Downton Abbey.

Others interviewed include Downton Abbey writer and creator Julian Fellowes; Victoria writer and creator Daisy Goodwin; Rebecca Eaton, Executive Producer of the series for 35 years, now Executive-Producer-at-Large; and Susanne Simpson, current Executive Producer of Masterpiece.

The program is also full of riveting moments from classics such as Upstairs Downstairs, Jewel in the Crown, I Claudius, Sherlock and current fan favorites, including Victoria, Endeavour, Poldark, Grantchester, and many more.

Take a moment to browse all Masterpiece series and films available on PBS.

Looking ahead to 2021, Masterpiece will be premiering four new productions in January, varying from period dramas to contemporary mysteries.

Downton Abbey is no longer streaming on PBS, but don’t miss an opportunity to re-live its greatest moments with the hilarious Downton Abbey Dish recaps of episodes by Deborah Gilbert.