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Masterpiece Theatre

From Academic Kids

Masterpiece Theatre is a long-running television series produced by WGBH that premiered on PBS on January 10, 1971. The show has presented to American audiences a large number of award-winning BBC or ITV productions, particularly BBC television dramas.

The show was hosted by Alistair Cooke until 1992; Russell Baker hosted from 1992 to 2004.

Masterpiece Theatre is known for presenting adaptations of famous novels and biographies into episodic TV miniseries, but it also shows original television dramas. Stories to have aired on the show include Elizabeth R, House of Cards, I, Claudius, Jeeves and Wooster, The Jewel in the Crown, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Traffik, Upstairs, Downstairs, and many others, including adaptations of Anna Karenina, Cakes and Ale, Cold Comfort Farm, Jude the Obscure, Madame Bovary, and Moll Flanders, Northanger Abbey.

The theme music to the show, played during the opening credits, is from "Symphonies and Fanfares for the King's Supper" by French composer Jean-Joseph Mouret.

In 1979, Masterpiece Theatre gained a sister series, Mystery!, an umbrella series for (again) mostly British detective and crime series.

Contents

Changes for 2004

The show was financed by Mobil and then Exxon Mobil until 2004, and was for many years known as Mobil Masterpiece Theater or ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theater. After their sponsorship ended, the show underwent a major restructuring:

  • The host was eliminated;
  • Mystery! and Masterpiece Theatre began sharing the Sunday time slot with MT airing in the fall and winter and M! in the spring and summer.
  • American-made productions were occasionally included.

Parodies

References

  • Masterpiece Theatre: A Celebration of 25 Years of Outstanding Television by Terrence O'Flaherty (1996), ISBN 091233374X
  • Masterpiece Theatre and the Politics of Quality by Laurence Jarvik (1999) ISBN 0810832046

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