Downton Abbey should follow in Doctor Who’s footsteps says Julian Fellowes

Inspired by the BBC's 50th anniversary simulcast, the Downton creator says the period drama should be shown at the same time on both sides of the Atlantic

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Downton Abbey should follow in Doctor Who’s footsteps says Julian Fellowes
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No, Hugh Bonneville’s character won’t be changing his name to Time Lord Grantham, or going on an adventure in the Tardis (unless you count the time Bonneville himself starred in an episode of Doctor Who). But Downton Abbey could take a leaf out of the Doctor’s book when it comes to timey-wimey stuff, says its creator Julian Fellowes.

Having been impressed by the BBC’s simultaneous broadcast of Doctor Who 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor to over 90 countries last November, Fellowes believes Downton fans on both sides of the Atlantic should at least be able to see episodes debut on the same day – and he hopes it would help avoid spoilers for US viewers too.

“I want to have simultaneous transmission in America and Britain,” said Fellowes. “The difficulty that we have is that people are discussing the series as it happens online before America’s seen it and on the internet we’re all in the same company. It’s madness.”

“The BBC have shown it can be done because they did it with Doctor Who so all this talk that it’s impossible is wrong,” the writer told The Telegraph. “I don’t mean exactly the same time so people have to stay up all night but instead the same day in order for everyone to have a chance to watch it.”

But does the writer think he has enough influence to implement the changes? “I don’t have enough sway to choose my own clothes,” he said. “It’s what I’d like but who cares what I think.”

The most recent fourth series of Downton Abbey began on US channel PBS in January, four months after it debuted in the UK on ITV. And while American fans are keen to see it as soon as possible, channel bosses may not feel the same. 

“The fact that word-of-mouth travels after it airs in the UK has actually benefited us," one PBS exec said previously. "We kind of don’t want to mess with that."