PBS is forced to pull 'unauthorised' Downton Abbey jewellery line after show producers object
PBS, the U.S. home to hit British TV period drama, Downton Abbey, has been forced to pull a collection of unofficial jewellery after producers objected.
Hugely successful as the show has been on American shores, PBS has been left red-faced for apparently cashing-in on the show's popularity and not returning profits to Carnival Films, the UK producers of the show, who own
the copyright to the series.
The souvenir earrings and necklaces dedicated to the upstairs/downstairs drama were sold on PBS's shopping site under names such as 'Lady Mary knotted pearl necklace and earring set' and 'Lady Sybil Black Pearl necklace and earring set'.
U-turn: PBS was forced to remove its Downton Abbey line of jewellery and accessories after the show's producers said they did not 'want viewers to think this was the jewelry that the characters wore'
A PBS spokesperson told TODAY.com: 'An email from the business affairs office
of NBC/Carnival was received requesting that we remove these items. PBS
complied immediately and the products are no longer being offered.'
The offending items were removed from ShopPBS.com on Tuesday afternoon, according to the news site.
A Carnival spokesman explained to Today: 'We didn’t want viewers to think this was the jewelry that the characters wore.'
Just days ago, it was reported that
Carnival were forced to call in lawyers to stop PBS from naming
jewellery after the show’s most famous character, Lady Mary Crawley.
It also emerged that profits from the
Downton Abbey jewellery were not returned to the writer and creator Julian
Fellowes or Carnival Films.
spokesman for Carnival said at the time: ‘We did not authorise the sale of Lady Mary
jewellery. Our lawyers have been in contact with PBS in order to remove
these items from sale.’
As swift as the action was, Carnival insists ties with the network remain cordial. A spokesman from the production company told the Today site: 'There is no dispute, it was a mistake on PBS’s part [to identify the jewelry with the show’s character’s]'.
Pretty pearls: The Lady Sybil Black Pearl necklace (left) was sold as part of a set with with earrings for $199.98, while a freshwater pearl and antique button and earring set (right) could be a fan's for $112.98
Old-world glamour: A brooch and earring cameo was on offer for $54.99 (left) and circular Victorian pearl earrings were available for $119.99 (right)
The company said the legal action had been 'part of an ongoing conversation with PBS' and that 'it isn’t a big issue.'
PBS had launched the Downton Abbey collection alongside official DVD and books for viewers who were keen to copy the style of Lady Mary and her sisters.
The ‘Lady Mary knotted pearl necklace and earring set’, which was available for $159.99, was doing a roaring trade until Downton producers complained.
The PBS Downton merchandise website described the item as ‘the epitome of elegance, inspired by the character of Lady Mary Crawley, this luxuriously long pearl necklace and matching diamante earring set is a must have for all ladies of quality.’
'We didn’t want viewers to think this was the jewelry that the characters wore'
The sales pitch added: ‘As it was in the Edwardian era, this stunning pearl necklace could easily move from your afternoon tea to evening dinner.
'Matching diamante earrings add additional distinction for formal meals or other occasions.’
The ‘glamorous aristocratic chic’ on offer in the Downton Collection also included a 1920s-style wool cloche hat with oversize buckle, in the style modelled by Lady Sybil, for $45.
There were even flat caps on sale, while viewers could also entertain guests with the $79.99 English Crown Tea Set, which included a gold-detailed teapot and mug.
‘Celebrate the English tradition of teatime with this tea service elegant enough for any Countess or Lady,’ the website suggested. The tea, of course, could be brewed in a Dcor Copper Teakettle w/Brass Handle, available for $39.99 until yesterday.
Ladies of the manor: Some of the offending items were named after two of the series' lead characters, Lady Mary Crawley (right) and Lady Sybil (centre), pictured here with Lady Edith
American tourists are already flocking to Highclere House in Berkshire where the series is filmed. The ITV series won six Emmy awards last year and was last week named best mini drama at the Golden Globes.
The second series of Downton Abbey lured 4.2 million viewers to the PBS network, doubling the US cable network’s average audience. While promoting the second series of Downton, which has just launched in the states, Lord Fellowes, 62, admitted he was surprised by its success in America.
The writer – who confessed to basing the show on US TV hit NYPD Blue – has already been approached about turning Downton into a Hollywood movie.
And he said: ‘To me, all success is a delightful surprise, since one can absolutely never predict it. I was tremendously pleased when it became apparent that the show had gone down well in America.
‘The night of the Emmys, when we won six altogether, was one of the great nights of my life. You will probably ask about class division and so on, but class, as a topic, is of far less interest to the Americans than the British. Good for them.
‘What the Americans want to see is life in their drama. Life of all sorts: hard lives, easy lives, or lives which, like most of ours, are a mixture of the two. If we are popular there, then I would suggest, again rather timidly, that we have managed to get some of that into the drawing rooms and sculleries of Downton Abbey.’