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PBS to Boost ‘Masterpiece’ Programming Next Year

PBS will add 20 hours of “Masterpiece”-branded programming next year, thanks to the growing viewership of the British imports spurred by the success of “Downton Abbey.”

Among the new shows coming to the schedule is “Grantchester,” which has landed the plum post-“Downton” slot starting Jan. 18. “Grantchester” revolves around a cop and a clergyman who team to solve crimes in a small English town in 1953. The six-episode series stars James Norton and Robson Green.

The expanded “Masterpiece” sked is financed by a sponsorship pact with Viking River Cruises, which has been the franchise’s sole sponsor since 2011, as well as coin from Ralph Lauren, PBS and Boston pubcaster WGBH.

“”The generosity and vision of all our funders creates the potential for a fantastic 50 percent increase in the number of new hours in 2015,” said exec producer Rebecca Eaton. “”This is truly a golden age of British drama and we’re very proud of this affirmation of the ‘Masterpiece’ brand.”

Other “Masterpiece” entries for 2015 include “Wolf Hall,” starring Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance as Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell; a remake of the 1970s British TV series “Poldark” and “Indian Summers,” set in the 1930s India during the last days of British rule.

Pictured: “Downton Abbey”

 

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