PBS reinventing 'Sherlock Holmes'

10:52 AM PST 02/22/2010 by James Hibberd, AP

'Upstairs' and Aurelio Zen series also in the works

BBC Worldwide and PBS' Masterpiece Theatre will co-produce a remake of "Upstairs Downstairs," as well as new series based on Sherlock Holmes and Aurelio Zen novels.

The announcement takes a page from the big broadcast network playbook, giving PBS a trio of popular titles, with two that tap into the crime procedural genre.

"Sherlock" will present a 21st century spin on the classic detective stories and stars Benedict Cumberbatch ("Atonement,") as Holmes and Martin Freeman (U.K.'s "The Office," "Hot Fuzz") as Dr. Watson.

"Upstairs Downstairs" will air in 2011 and be set in the same house as the original in 1936, during the period leading up to World War II. "Upstairs Downstairs" won seven Emmys during its run on "Masterpiece Theatre" in the 1970s.

And finally, Rufus Sewell ("The Eleventh Hour") will star as Italian detective Aurelio Zen in three episodes based on the mystery novel by Michael Dibden. The series is being shot in Italy.

"I'm so proud of this particular group of programs," says "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "These three series say everything about what 'Masterpiece' aims to be: iconic, rich with wonderful actors, witty, literate and timeless. I can't wait to see them all."

"Upstairs Downstairs" is a BBC/Masterpiece co-production; "Sherlock" is a Hartswood Films and Masterpiece co-production; "Aurelio Zen" is produced by Left Bank Pictures for the BBC in association with RTI (Mediaset Group), Masterpiece and ZDF.
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