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Masterpiece Theatre is a Long-Running primetime series on PBS that usually showcases BBC productions (Channel 4 and ITV material are occasionally featured). The series premiered in 1971 and was originally hosted by Alistair Cooke, but has had a number of presenters since his retirement in 1992. Its well-known classical title theme is Jean-Joseph Mouret's Rondeau.

The series features dramatic adaptations of notable, usually British, literary works -- for instance, its Austen adaptations -- which are currently hosted by Laura Linney (Masterpiece Classic) and David Tennant (Masterpiece Contemporary).

Adaptations for TV by the BBC of Shakespeare and other classic works are very often syndicated to appear on Masterpiece in the US, usually through WGBH-Television in Boston, often in multiple parts.

It has been shortened to Masterpiece of late, presumably to go along with Mystery!... now known confusingly as Masterpiece Mystery, another Long Runner (currently hosted by Alan Cumming) brought to you by the BBC (and originally created as a kind of spinoff to Masterpiece Theatre itself).

It seems like as of late, both shows have been folded back into each other, and now all three shows now operate under the Masterpiece label and cycle through four month blocks (give or take). Classic runs from January to April, Mystery! runs from May to August, and Contemporary finishes out September through December.

Also not to be confused with World Masterpiece Theater, another long runner anime children's classics series in Japan.

See also Merchant-Ivory Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame.


Notable entries in the series include:

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