'Downton Abbey' Sells to Over 100 Territories

The pre-World War I drama has proved to be one of the most popular British TV exports in recent years.

LONDON -  NBC Universal said Thursday that its Edwardian country house drama Downton Abbey has been licensed to over 100 international territories since its global premiere in the U.K. last September, making it one of the most successful U.K. drama exports in recent years. The award-winning hit pulled in almost 13 million viewers for the season finale on ITV1 and has sold to Germany, Japan, Australia, The Netherlands and markets in the Middle East.

Season two, which is currently in production, promises a further eight episodes of the one-hour costume drama scripted by Gosford Park writer Julian Fellowes, adding new characters played by Ian Glen and Maria Doyle Kennedy to the ensemble drama that features, among others, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville.

NBC-owned Carnival Films made the drama in the U.K. with co-financing using the spectacular location of Highclere House as the background to a period romance, which also examines the changing role of women in the pre-First World War era and the shifting lines of social class.

Downton is a Carnival/Masterpiece co-production and executive produced by Carnival Films’ managing director, Gareth Neame and Rebecca Eaton, WGBH and Julian Fellowes. It opened the Classic season on Masterpiece in January, and became its highest rating show, doubling the channel’s season average audience.