When "Downton Abbey" executive producer Gareth Neame initially brought the idea for the TV series to creator-writer Julian Fellowes, he'd been inspired by the 1970s series "Upstairs Downstairs." With "Downton," Neame hoped to reinvent that "quintessentially British" aristocrats-and-their-servants genre.
As Neame recalls in this video clip from a recent Envelope Screening Series presentation, the BBC was considered the obvious buyer for the series — but they passed. He eventually sold it to the U.K.'s commercial network ITV, which afforded he and Fellowes the ability to take the show in new directions.
"We wanted it to be ... a real rollercoaster, packed full of story," Neame said. "It's the first time I ever had a plan that worked!"