PBS fall sked offers Burns, ‘Midwife’

Election coverage plentiful for pubcaster

Six-part drama “Call the Midwife” and Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl” headline the newly announced fall schedule for PBS.

“Midwife,” adapted by Heidi Thomas (“Cranford”) and set in the 1950s, will premiere Sept. 30. Project, focusing on midwives in London’s East End, comes from BBC Worldwide and Sam Mendes’ Neal Street Prods. via BBC Worldwide America.

“Dust Bowl,” to be presented in two-hour installments Nov. 18-19, will focus on the environmental catastrophe that destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains, weaving together personal survival stories and rare archival footage. Ric Burns’ “Death and the Civil War” docu (Sept. 18) for “American Experience” will explore how the conflict at Antietam transformed life in the U.S.

PBSfall schedule, one of our strongest in years, builds on the knowledge that our programming approach is working, bringing in new viewers throughout the week,” PBS prexy-CEO Paula Kerger said.

The pubcaster has also scheduled the second and final season of the revival of “Upstairs Downstairs” to run in six parts beginning Oct. 7. The previous season of the miniseries will be reaired in a three-hour block Sept. 30.

Other key offerings for PBS this fall include three-part unscripted series “Broadway or Bust” (Sept. 9-23), tracking aspiring theater stars in high school, and quadrennial “Frontline” presidential election special “The Choice” (Oct. 9), promising an in-depth look at prospective GOP nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama.

“Half the Sky,” airing in two-hour segments Oct. 1-2, travels to 10 countries to tell stories of women facing oppression. George Clooney will introduce the event, which features celebrity advocates America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde with New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof.

New episodes of “Nature,” “Nova” and “Nova ScienceNow” will air on Wednesdays, while Mondays will offer a series of “Antiques Roadshow” specials leading into the first fall season of “Market Warriors.”

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