Emmys 2011: PBS’ ‘Downton Abbey’ steals awards thunder from HBO


Apparently you can’t be too big to fail.

HBO, the premium pay cable channel that is normally a dominant force at the Emmy Awards, was beaten up in prestige categories Sunday by an unlikely foe — public broadcasting, which gets its funding from the government and viewer contributions.

Although HBO outscored PBS in the final Emmy medal count — 19 to 14 — it was PBS’ British import “Downton Abbey” that walked away with some of the night’s highest honors. The “Masterpiece”drama about an aristocratic family in pre-World War I England that PBS aired in the United States won for TV miniseries or movie. Julian Fellowes, creator of the series, also won the writing award in the category, and director Brian Percival and supporting actress Maggie Smith took their categories.

“We’re going to enjoy the evening now,” joked Fellowes while accepting his award. He said he felt like David going up against Goliath when he saw who “Downton Abbey” was matched against. Fellowes won an Oscar in 2002 for writing “Gosford Park.”


Still, the night wasn’t a total loss for HBO, which scored awards for its lavish and artful period miniseries “Mildred Pierce.” The drama won trophies in the supporting actor and lead actress categories for Guy Pearce and Kate Winslet.

The wins for PBS come after the Academy for Television Arts & Sciences combined the movie and miniseries awards into one category, a move that seemed primarily aimed at changing the trend of HBO dominating two categories during the Emmy Awards.

“Downton Abbey” also won Emmy Awards last weekend for cinematography and costumes at the Creative Arts Emmys.