British reap record number of Emmy nominations

This is a banner year for the British at the Emmy Awards. The masters and servants of “Downton Abbey” did well in drama, English detectives “Sherlock” and “Luther” took over the movie/miniseries categories, and British thespians contend in many categories. PBS’ “Masterpiece,” which airs “Downton,” “Sherlock” and three other contenders, earned a series high 37 nominations. Other British programs and performers bring the total up to 50. To see them all VIEW GALLERY


This Emmy infatuation with all things British is nothing new. “Elizabeth R,” a six-parter about Elizabeth I starring Oscar champ Glenda Jackson, won Best Drama Series in 1972 edging out, among others, “The Six Wives of Henry VIII,” another BBC six-parter about the love life of Elizabeth’s father. The period piece “Upstairs, Downstairs” won Best Drama Series in 1974, 1975 and 1977 and Best Limited Series in 1976. 

Those three programs were presented on PBS as part of “Masterpiece.” The very first Brit hit to air under this umbrella title — “The First Churchills” — won Susan Hampshire Best Drama Actress in 1971. In 1973, “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” took the first Emmy for Limited Series. Other British winners of that award (now Movie/Miniseries) that aired on “Masterpiece” were “The Jewel in the Crown” (1985), “Prime Suspect” installments 2 (1993), 3 (1994) and 5 (1997), “The Lost Prince” (2005), “Little Dorrit” (2009) and “Downton Abbey” (2011). 

Of the five “Masterpiece” entries, “Downton,” which has been recategorized, did the best with 16 nominations, including Drama Series, six acting awards, directing and writing. 

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One of the three installments of the “Sherlock” series, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” picked up 13 nominations including Movie/Mini and acting bids for both Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman). 

Great Expectations” earned five nominations (art direction, cinematography, costumes, main title design and theme music) while “Page Eight” earned two —  Movie/Mini Supporting Actress (Judy Davis) and theme music — and Oscar champ Emma Thompson picked up a Movie/Mini Actress nom for “The Song of Lunch.”


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