Making MASTERPIECE, Episode One: The Beginning

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By Bruce Kohl. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Five decades is a long time for any television series to air, but when a show hits 50, it's possible some people might start asking questions about where it all started. That's where this podcast comes in. Fifty years ago, a group of public television producers in Boston had the inspired idea to import British costume drama for American audiences. But they didn't come up with the idea on their own — there's a former FCC Chair, a popular soap opera, and a Polaroid exec with Julia Child's The French Chef on his mind involved, too. For three episodes, Making MASTERPIECE will show how the most unexpected and unlikely of series — Masterpiece Theatre — grew into one of the longest-running primetime television icons of all time. What are its origins? What actors, writers, and executives shaped its trajectory? How has it overcome numerous challenges? And what does it have in store for its future, 50 years on?

In this first episode, that origin story, featuring interviews with the series’ original executive producer, Sir Derek Jacobi, Glenda Jackson, former FCC Chairman Newton Minow and dozens more besides. See our website, pbs.org/makingmasterpiece, for a full transcript with links.

199 episodes