is a Long-Running
primetime series on PBS
that acts as a showcase for British TV shows (usually from The BBC
, though Channel Four
material are occasionally featured).
The series premiered in 1971 as Masterpiece Theatre
, with a focus on Costume Drama
and literary adaptations. Its well-known classical title theme
is Jean-Joseph Mouret's Rondeau
. It was hosted by Alistair Cooke until his retirement in 1992, and then by Russell Baker until 2004.
In 1980 it gained a sister series, Mystery!
, which showcased British detective and mystery series. Mystery!
had a specially-created title sequence inspired by the artwork of Edward Gorey
. It was hosted by Gene Shalit for its first year, succeeded by Vincent Price
(1981-1989) and Diana Rigg (1989-2003). (Neither show had an on-screen host between 2004 and 2008.)
In 2008, the two series were combined into a single Masterpiece
series, which features three strands in rotation: Masterpiece Classic
, hosted by Gillian Anderson
and then Laura Linney
; Masterpiece Mystery
, hosted by Alan Cumming
; and Masterpiece Contemporary
, hosted by Matthew Goode
and then David Tennant
Adaptations for TV by the BBC of Shakespeare and other classic works are very often syndicated to appear on Masterpiece
in the US, usually through WGBH-Television in Boston, often in multiple parts.
Not to be confused with World Masterpiece Theater
long runner anime
children's classics series in Japan.
See also Merchant-Ivory Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame
Notable entries in the series include: