Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS
I have a confession. I’m not entirely certain that I’ve ever seen an episode of Masterpiece Theatre. So I approached this book, not as a devoted fan, but as an interested observer. Considering this, I was especially delighted to discover that this is how Rebecca Eaton herself was introduced to Masterpiece – she was aware of it (it would be difficult not to be), but did not really watch it.
This book tells more than the story of Ms. Eaton’s twenty-eight years working on Masterpiece. It tells the entire forty-two year long story of the show from the very beginnings to the relatively recent rebranding in an effort to attract younger viewers (and sponsors), and concludes with the current phenomenon of Downton Abbey. There are a few dry spots, explanations of the financial side of things, but even those were broken up by stories of some game-changing moment. About two dozen other voices (including Kenneth Branagh, Daniel Radcliffe, and Julian Fellowes) help to tell the story, each snippet told in their own words. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with the change of narrator, but the stories are all deliciously human – a pattern that follows the show’s long-standing formula for success.
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