Bring North & South to PBS

I received a request from a lurker this morning to share this appeal. And no, I’m not just posting it because my correspondent said she liked what I had to say about the thumbs. (Grin). As a newbie I didn’t realize that North & South hadn’t been broadcast on a public network in the United States. (And I understand that The Impressionists — a work of much less historical fidelity — has been.) I agree that PBS would be the perfect place for it to appear. Perhaps there’s something I haven’t thought of, but off the top of my head I think this would be a good way for U.S. fans to support Mr. Armitage’s career.

It’s not just about that, though, since I am not going to support any initiative to urge PBS to broadcast Between the Sheets! Speaking from my lectern, now, North & South is just a great film. The amount of work that the BBC put into making a credible re-creation of the world of the 1850s in this piece is mind-boggling. I know from messages I’ve gotten off blog that it’s being used in a number of high school and university classrooms now, and it will certainly appeal to a broad audience of viewers.

As a personal testimonial for the relevance of Masterpiece to me: as a kid, growing up near the margins of the middle of nowhere, PBS and Masterpiece (then: Masterpiece Theatre) provided evidence that a big, wide, wonderful world  was waiting out there. The first thing I ever watched on Masterpiece was To Serve Them All My Days, which was broadcast on the nearest PBS station on Sunday evenings immediately after All Creatures Great and Small. (“James Herriot” / Alf Wight’s memoirs were bestsellers in the U.S. in the early 1980s and our public library had them. The rest of the county and I loved them all — a lot of people knew what he was talking about when he narrated his torturous tales of bovine uterine prolapse in the dead of winter in the middle of the night, and four-volume box sets were frequent Christmas gifts; I had one — and that was why I was watching PBS in the first place the evening that I discovered Masterpiece. To Serve Them All my Days introduced me to the British poets of WWI, and especially, once I had read R.F. Delderfield’s novel, led me via reference made by the main character, David Powlett-Jones, to Erich Maria Remarque’s The Road Back (the sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front, and arguably a book that more accurately reflects the historical mood than his more famous work, now probably read by 90 percent of all U.S. high school students). All Creatures Great and Small, in turn put me onto Peter Davison and thus, later, onto Dr. Who, which was also broadcast on PBS. At that time, our only tv options were the three commercial networks, and so PBS was an important vector of culture for those of us in the middle of nowhere before cable tv became standard in the U.S. Masterpiece in particular fed my need for input about history in the public school context, where history instruction was only about names, dates, and citizenship. Given that we  had only an aerial antenna, we sometimes had to work hard to tune in those PBS broadcasts, but they were a high point of my week as an adolescent.

So if you’re moved, please participate.


Calling all US Fans of RA & North & South!!!

Another year goes by & still the US doesn’t broadcast North & South

Maybe they don’t know what a ‘masterpiece’ it is. Why not spread the word?

We are searching for fans of North & South & Richard Armitage who have access to PBS to join a postcard campaign.

The purpose is to contact Rebecca Eaton, Executive Producer of Masterpiece, to promote the screening in the US of our favorite adaptation. Those, who enjoy period dramas, great literature, a heart-stopping romance & a hero to fall in love with, deserve to see it.   We want her to know that there is indeed an interest in seeing N&S and that Masterpiece is the place for it to be!

We have an outstanding postcard on which there is ample room to place  personal comments on why North & South should be broadcast by Masterpiece. This 11-1/2 X 6-1/8” postcard has been designed by Heathra – it is so beautiful and designed to catch the eye. Thanks Heather!!

Imagine the impact of these lovely postcards with handwritten notes!

So join in by:

(1) Email your name & address to Fans.of.North.and.South[AT] Within 24 hours the pre-addressed postcard will be mailed to you.

(2) When you receive the card simply add your comments, put on a 44 cent stamp & off to the mailbox you go!  Please sign it with your name, city & state, not your screen name (Your email with your name and address will be deleted once I send you your postcard – your privacy will be honored!)

Spread the word! The more postcards that go out, the more attention we will receive, the more likely we’ll succeed.

The email address is:  Fans.of.North.and.South[AT]


~ by Servetus on September 3, 2010.

33 Responses to “Bring North & South to PBS”

  1. Hope the appeal works… BUT I have to add…All Creatures Great And Small…Peter Davison!…Dr Who!!! Excellent! I never would have guessed!!!


  2. Coincidence, servetus – have just finished re-reading N&S. And my Austen collection. And thinking in Regency/Victorian phrases. (The thinking hasn’t reached faux-19th C writing yet, but the elegance of the language is buzzing in the head…)

    Joining the campaign. PBS has been a mainstay here in S.E. Ontario, and I’ve donated in the past. TV Ontario has been very good about British broadcasting, too, but PBS has been around longer, and seems to have a somewhat bigger repertoire.

    N&S, both book and series, are Masterpieces. Mrs. Gaskell’s rendering is much more Margaret’s story than that of John. But the adaptation is very true to the spirit of the book, and there is no such thing as too much praise for Sandy Welch, the screen/script writer.

    Or for Mr. Armitage, and the cast in toto.


    • Interesting that you would write that Gaskell is more about Margaret than John; I think that that is my initial perception as well, but we can’t ignore that the novel frequently tells us what Mr. Thornton is thinking / feeling (while the movie never does). I think this is an interesting effect of both works, and I know that RAFrenzy has thought about it as well.


  3. All Creatures Great And Small besides Upstairs and Downstairs part of my childhood fare too. Somehow I missed Dr. Who. My time in the UK were in the grip of Dallas which once in the US lost it’s appeal. Then I discovered Masterpiece too. A N&S on masterpiece campaign is surely needed!! This feels perfect for a page on FB too!!


    • My parents also watched Dallas with something approaching religious devotion. I never got it, possibly being too young. They also watched the spinoff, Knott’s Landing (sp?), and the show always shown in the US after Dallas: Falconcrest.

      Dallas was also tremendously popular in Germany, I know (it was before my time, but people still talk about it). I don’t think I’ll ever really understand its appeal.


    • Yes – we all watched Dallas religiously too – it really caught on in the UK for some reason.


  4. Every now and then the PBS station ran a 24 hour Dr. Who-athon. For those of us in the know, that was a really big deal. I never became a crazed enthusiast, but I did watch it with pleasure.

    We loved All Creatures Great and Small, though I think my parents watched it from the subaltern perspective — they viewed Herriot from the perspective of the taciturn, dour Yorkshire farmers rather than taking on the show’s perspective, which was Herriot’s amused struggle with his rural clients.

    In linking to wikipedia today I learned that those books were set in John Standring territory: Sowerby … 🙂


  5. I’m SHOCKED that it hasn’t already aired on PBS! It’s played on public tv in Ontario a number of times and we usually get the stuff that’s been on PBS. Good luck with your initiative! I’m sure that Rebecca Eaton is well aware of N&S and I’m curious to know why she hasn’t made sure that it reached American audiences before now!


  6. North & South did air on PBS, or at least select PBS stations. (Since individual stations can opt out of showing a series if they want,may not have played everywhere). I first saw it in 2005 on my local PBS station in Virginia, and I believe it was shown as part of Masterpiece Theater (I think that was before they switched to Masterpiece Classics, etc.). I bought the DVD from the PBS shop around that time. However, also at the time probably no one in the US had ever heard of Richard Armitage. I think things would be different now after RH and BBC America. N&S hasn’t played on PBS since then, I’m positive, so it is about time they show it again. I think the idea of the campaign is a wonderful one.


  7. For those on Facebook, I’ve been informed that a page for/about the effort is in the works.


  8. A friend of mine first saw it on a PBS station, but it seems it was not widely aired.

    I agree with Musa that after RH on BBCA and also MI-5 as well, the reception might be much different.


  9. I meant to say ‘also MI-5 on PBS as well.’

    If PBS won’t listen, then maybe we can lobby A&E. LOL!

    BTW, there is a FB page about this, but it was never promoted.


  10. I have to don’t remember seeing it here on PBS and I am and long have been an avid fan of MT and pretty much watch all their period dramas. Brings back such wonderful memories, this post, Servetus.

    As a young girl, I remember watching “Upstairs, Downstairs,” “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” (considerably more historically accurate than “The Tudors” as I recall LOL) and “Poldark.” Loved Masterpiece Mysteries over the years, too. “Rumpole of the Bailey” and She Who Must Be Obeyed, all the Agatha Christie stuff–so much wonderfully entertaining television.

    I grew up in the middle of nowhere with only a small handful of TV stations, a far cry from what we have now via satellite. However, I had lots of books and I had Alastair Cooke’s urbanity each Sunday night as he introduced the latest drama imported from across the pond.

    I do think that due to BBC America and RH, which is turn brought me and many fellow Americans to become fans of RA, a broadcast of N&S now could be quite a hit for PBS. I am all for it! Ladies, we have to pull together to promote our favourite actor here in North America!


    • Now I am going to reveal the recent closing of a gaping hole of ignorance: I loved Alastair Cooke, too. (As angieklong notes, he was the host of the program and one of the major “faces of Englishness” in the U.S.) I only recently discovered that for half a century he wrote and narrated a BBC radio program called “Letter from America.” It was a series of short weekly vignettes about life in the U.S. broadcast in Britain. He did them from shortly after WWII until the month before he died. I only started listening to the BBC World Service in March of 2003, so I never heard any of them on the air, but I recently read a book that compiled a selection of them (there were thousands and thousands, so the book offered a very small propotion) and they are fascinating! I feel like such a dolt for not having known this about him before.


      • I heard quite a few of those ‘Letters from America’ over the years – AC was kind of the professional Englishman abroad, but the letters were always worth a listen.


        • When I was reading them, I kept hearing his voice in my head. He was really a comforting presence. I read the older stuff (stuff I hadn’t lived through personally) with greater interest — he was less interesting to me or convincing about stuff that I remembered myself — but he was obviously a keen observer of the U.S.


          • There was a sort of wise grandfatherly quality to Cooke for me. He seemed a dependable sort–rather like a British Walter Cronkite–and having lost both grandfathers, one before I was born and the other, when I was very young, I also found him quite comforting indeed.


  11. I have to say I don’t remember . . . listen, it has been a rough week. *sigh*


  12. […] I received a request from a lurker this morning to share this appeal. And no, I'm not just posting it because my correspondent said she liked what I had to say about the thumbs. (Grin). As a newbie I didn't realize that North & South hadn't been broadcast on a public network in the United States. (And I understand that The Impressionists — a work of much less historical fidelity — has been.) I agree that PBS would be the perfect place for i … Read More […]


  13. I tried something new — the reblogging feature. Then I put this on Twitter as well. Hope no one minds a mutt doing that. LOL!!


  14. It does blow my mind that North and South has never aired on Masterpiece in the US. I mean they aired Wives & Daughters and skipped N&S?! How did THAT happen?!


    • I know will also admit that I haven’t seen Wives & Daughters. I am supplied with these things by my friend and colleague the former Cambridge professor, who has so far given me “Daniel Deronda” and “The Way We Live Now.”


  15. Since I live in Italy, I can’t actually help you. Anyhow, I posted about it on facebook and twitter. I hope North & South gets to PBS Masterpiece Classics. It’s definitely one of the best costume drama ever!


  16. It’s so interesting that you are posting about this right now… my daughter and I have only recently watched this film. To say that we loved it would be an appalling understatement. We watched it two times all the way through on the same weekend, and would have watched it a dozen more times since then, except that we are forcing ourselves to wait for at least six months before we watch it again. Ohh… that agony! I actually posted about North & South on my own blog today:

    We’ll definitely be joining in this campaign… I’d love to see N&S on PBS!


    • I’m way behind on answering comments, Diane — welcome and thanks for posting.

      You do need to be careful about over exposure. In January, I watched it in a continuous loop every evening for approximately three weeks. Dizzying.


  17. […] of course, the campaign to persuade PBS to broadcast North & South in their Masterpiece series, described here. I also received notice of the appertaining facebook page — many […]


  18. […] who infected me with Armitagemania in the first place into sending my spare postcard to the Bring North & South to Masterpiece campaign. This was actually a funny conversation, will probably blog about it separately later. […]


  19. […] for those of us who remember the campaign to put North & South on Masterpiece a decade ago. There was a beautiful paper postcard designed by HeathRA — unfortunately I can’t find […]


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