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Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS
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Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  628 ratings  ·  176 reviews
The Emmy Award-winning producer of PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! reveals the secrets to Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and its other hit programs

For more than twenty-five years and counting, Rebecca Eaton has presided over PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre, the longest running weekly prime time drama series in American history. From the runaway hits
Upstairs, Downstairs  and Th
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Viking
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Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting trivia for fans of Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery!. Who knew Rebecca turned down the 1995 Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth and almost turned down Downton Abbey?

Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a combination memoir of Rebecca Eaton and of Masterpiece Theatre. I have long been a fan of Masterpiece theatre and love the theme music. It was fun to learn where and how the theme music came about and how the program began. Eaton weaves an absorbing story of her own life with that of the Masterpiece Theatre. Eaton tells of her early life as the daughter of a famous actress and a father who was a Shakespeare professor.

She tells of her apprenticeship with the BBC living in England and
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this as a lifelong Masterpiece fan (courtesy of my British mum), but also as a television news producer. Rebecca Eaton wrote the best two paragraph description of what television producers do that I have ever read. And, as before I read the book, I think Eaton has one of the best jobs in television!
Barbara Backus
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
All the logistics of putting together a television series, all the problems of finding and maintaining funding as well as the tidbits behind the scenes fills the pages. Interesting if you like to learn about Alistair Cooke's quirks and how "Downton Abbey" found its place on PBS. But the book would have benefited from some additional editing. ...more
Melody Schwarting
Making Masterpiece tells the stories behind the favorite costume dramas and mysteries that come to life on PBS on Sunday nights (...I have to catch up on Endeavour). We never had cable in my house, so PBS was our primary channel of choice. I recall distinctly when I began to watch Masterpiece, in January 2008, with the Jane Austen suite. It was my introduction to her stories, which immediately appealed to my 13-year-old, 7th-grade self. Since then, I’ve paid attention to everything Masterpiece s ...more
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I come late to the plate of Masterpiece Theatre, so late in fact that the Theatre piece had been dropped from the title by the time I tuned in. Perhaps I wasn't quite a woman of a certain age or time was at a premium or I watched something else on Sunday nights. I do remember a time when my family did not get any PBS stations so maybe that was the reason. At any rate I'm now making up for lost time.

When the opportunity rose to learn a bit of the background of Masterpiece (as it is now known) an
Mary Ronan Drew
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Many of us remember that first Masterpiece Theatre production, back in 1969, of the Forsyte Saga. It went on for 26 weeks and since there were no commercial tapes let alone DVDs we had to watch it every single week for half a year on Sunday night at 9 PM. Who could forget?

But it turns out The Forsyte Saga was not a Masterpiece Theatre production. In her delightfully gossipy book, Making Masterpiece: 25 Years, Rebecca Eaton, the executive producer of the show for the past 28 years, clears up a lo
Apr 19, 2014 rated it liked it
As a Masterpiece Theatre junkie, you would think this book is right up my alley. However, the thing I like about Masterpiece (especially the Masterpiece of the last few years) is that it’s usually very well done, from the writing to the scenery, the filming to the acting. The British accents might help with this a little. While this book is about how all of that gets put together, this book felt very much like a rough draft. There were large portions that felt like they were cut and pasted direc ...more
Kristine Berg
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a lifetime fan of Masterpiece Theatre, I happily read memoirs of the producer who oversaw 25years of the show from its inception. My love of things British was born from this show, and led to my eventual marriage to a man who combines the high cheekbone gorgeousness I fell for with thE peculiar good mannered reserve that I came to love while watching all those period dramas. One gets the sense that Rebecca Eaton has put her foot in her mouth many times, and has been as awed by British acting ...more
It's not a good sign when reading a memoir makes you like the person who wrote it less. I had thought that I'd find a kindred spirit in Rebecca Eaton since she's produced so much television that I've adored, but there was something about how she wrote about it that made me feel like we weren't on the same page. I really liked learning background details of how Masterpiece Theater came to be, but I was disappointed that she wrote so disparagingly of films she produced in the 90s, since that was w ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
Very interesting book inside the Masterpiece workings. There is so much behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into a production it is mind boggling. The author gives a pretty good picture of how all this works, and the outcome would either be good for the station, or reflect a poor choice.

When Masterpiece switched over to a more contemporary feel, it wasn't just a whim. Apparently those costume dramas were 'out of style', hence a new approach and look was needed to keep it alive. Unfortunately, they
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
As a longtime fan of Masterpiece Theater and Mystery, I really enjoyed reading about all the behind the scenes info and actor name-dropping. She writes in such a conversational way that it was easy to zip right through it.
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves history of TV; actors and acting; film production; biographies/autobiographies
Recommended to Lynn by: Goodreads firstreads
This Goodreads first-reads is both Rebecca Eaton's autobiography and the 25 yr. history of the PBS Masterpiece and Mystery series. It is also a fascinating look at the people involved with PBS productions and what it takes to bring a successful program such as Downton Abbey into our homes.

Beginning with the ground-breaking "Forsythe Saga", which aired on National Educational Television (NET), the inspiration for the future Masterpiece Theatre series,and the ending with the production of "Sherloc
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Making Masterpiece by Rebecca Eaton is a free Goodreads advance reader copy of a book I began reading on Halloween 2013 while on the city bus to school. Having already whet my whistle with a biography on English domestic service between the 1910s-1940s with Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor, I was looking forward to reading about British lit drama on television, as told by an American producer.

When Rebecca Eaton states at the very beginning of this book that she's writing this book sporati
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book! Rebecca Eaton is a Vassar Alum, and when she came in to sign her books, I couldn't have been *more* of a fangirl! It was great to chat with her and I was more excited than if a movie start had shown up. I most enjoyed reading about the Masterpiece shows that I know best, and how the different hosts found their way into the roles. I was also shocked to realize that there are so many hit shows of which I've never even heard. I have a lot of work to do! The only part of th ...more
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much I am sorry I've finished it! I loved the backstage feel of it...the insider's look at one of my all-time favorite forms of entertainment, Masterpiece Theatre...and I learned a lot about the challenges of producing high quality public television, too. Reading this book brought back many happy memories of watching Sunday night TV with my late mom. Mom introduced me to Masterpiece as a kid and I have been a fan ever since. I also learned of many shows I either didn't know ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thank you very much to Goodreads and Penguin Canada for this giveaway - I loved it! As soon as I saw the listing for this book I couldn't wait to read it. I've enjoyed Masterpiece (Theatre) since I was a teenager and knew this would be a great read. I had very little idea what a tv producer actually did and I found it very interesting to learn about the many facets of Ms. Eaton's job. Loved the parts about Alistair Cooke, Cranford and of course, Downton Abbey. A must read for every Masterpiece ( ...more
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This was so interesting. Only in the last five years or so have my husband and I become avid Masterpiece watchers, now rarely missing an episode. Oh how I wish I had been interested in the 1990s and early 2000s as there some wonderful shows then as well. Rebecca Easton's focus was on the making of Masterpiece and only lightly touches on her personal life throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. ...more
Oct 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was a loyal Masterpiece fan for many years. I haven't found most of their recent presentations very compelling - not even Downtown Abbey - but this book is full of interesting anecdotes about many of my old favorites.

If you're a fan, then I'd say that this is worth reading. It's a pretty easy read.
Jessica Nordell
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you enjoy Masterpiece and if you are the type who watches all the behind the scenes features, this is a great book for you! This book felt like sitting down and having coffee on a regular basis with Rebecca Eaton - she shares much of her background and many entertaining stories about her experiences and what it takes to make a successful Masterpiece production. I find myself using what I learned from this book to give me more context and appreciation as I enjoy other media- there is a tremend ...more
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fine memoir. I enjoyed the overlay of Eaton's personal stories with that of the programs and opportunities of Masterpiece. I learned some fun facts about Downton Abbey, which was my original interest in the book. I found through reading though that I was familiar with and/or own many of the programs that Masterpiece has produced through the years. I'm a much more enthusiastic supporter of Masterpiece after reading this book. ...more
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hpl
Delightful trip down memory lane! I have happy recollections of watching the original Forsyth Saga with my mother. The book is full of behinds the scenes stories and antidotes about the various actresses and actors who have appeared on the series over the years. The stories about Allistar Cooke are delightful - makes me wish all his "introductions" were available!
This is a most enjoyable read for anyone who grew up on Masterpiece Theater.
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads, memoir

So you like Downton Abbey or Sherlock.  Maybe even Call the Midwife, if you’re a bit sleepy and don’t mind the pacing.  But what about Rebecca Eaton?  Do you know who she is, or what her relationship is to these new but instant classics for anglophiles in America?  If you’re like me and enjoy figuring out how things work––after all, I did watch every single extra feature in my boxed set extended edition Lord of the Rings  DVDs––then there’s a dash of built-in appeal to a book like Eaton’s Making

Kathleen Sams
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I greatly enjoyed this book - having grown up watching PBS. My sister and I loved the Mystery intro. created by Edward Gorey! Rebecca Eaton's backstory on Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery was a quick, engaging read. ...more
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Pull a comfortable seat and pour a (large) cuppa -- Branagh shares her memories of producing Masterpiece Theatre and it reads as though she is at the table with you, reminiscing through a long, cozy afternoon. Fans of the popular PBS series (and Mystery!) will enjoy the insider insights.
Casee Marie
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I first began watching Masterpiece, the acclaimed PBS series, when I was nineteen, precisely the year when PBS and WGBH were rebranding the series from the famous Masterpiece Theatre to the sleeker, more modern Masterpiece and its three chapters: Masterpiece Classic, Masterpiece Mystery!, and Masterpiece Contemporary. Having recently finished all of Jane Austen’s novels, as well as being an aspiring Anglophile and burgeoning costume drama devotee, I was hooked on the prospect of the upcoming Com ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
She is a master, but willing tells about her mistakes.
Kathie Schmid
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting memoir on "how the sausage gets made" of a fantastic television/PBS staple. ...more
Lisa Tangen
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't a Masterpiece watcher, but I loved this book. It has inspired me to read more classics. It also explained well what an executive producer does. ...more
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2021
A must for longtime fans of the PBS series.
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Goodreads Librari...: different edition for Giveaway ARC 7 183 Nov 17, 2013 08:06PM  

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“Vassar was like all colleges in the 1960s: a scene of deep friendships, love, booze, dope, sex, music, and politics.” 0 likes
“It was 1969, and for all the girls and women I knew, life changed profoundly in those four years of college. In 1965 we entered, most of us virginally, as freshmen in knee socks and loafers, looking for husbands and studying art history. We graduated in bell-bottoms and white armbands, taking the Pill and attempting to save the world.” 0 likes
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