About 5 million viewers watched Downton Abbey's four episodes which followed the lives and loves of the family living in the titular British estate and the staff that serves them when they aired on PBS’ Masterpiece in early 2011. ''People who discovered it embraced it as their own because it was harder to find and not shoved down your throat,'' says Elizabeth McGovern, who stars as Downton's Cora Crawley, the lady of the house who presides over it with husband Robert, as Countess and Earl of Grantham. ''That's very gratifying.''
Though it had originally been conceived as a miniseries, Downton's runaway success, both here and in the U.K. (where it now stands as the most popular drama of the last eight years), earned it a second season, with a third set to film in February.
Image Credit: ROBERT TRACHTENBERG FOR EW
Get an insider's look at the gorgeous estate and its equally beautiful residents