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Downton Abbey Success Spawns Slew of New British Shows on PBS (video!)

Downton Abbey's success has convinced PBS to expand it's offering of British Dramas in 2015. Here are the highlights. (Photo: ITV)

Downton Abbey’s success has convinced PBS to expand it’s offering of British Dramas in 2015. Here are the highlights. (Photo: ITV)

Downton Abbey, on of the most successful shows ever imported for American viewing on PBS has triggered a new British invasion on public television, with the arrival of two new series later this year.

“Arthur & George,” starring Martin Clunes (Doc Martin), and “Home Fires” will become part of the Masterpiece series, the networks flagship station WGBH announced.

Samantha Bond from “Downton Abbey” and Francesca Annis, best known for films such as “Dune” and the television shows “Reckless,” and “Wives and Daughters,” will star in “Home Fires.”

With the addition of the British period piece about the aristocratic Crawley family in England, and shows like “Sherlock,” Masterpiece’s ratings have soared by 80 percent since 2010. The show scored a 3.6 national household rating last year.

“For Masterpeice to be the number one show on PBS in its 44th year is historic,” said executive producer Rebecca Eaton in a statement.

“We are proud of the work of our British partners and grateful to all of our American supporters.”

While “Downton Abbey” has held down the 9pm Sunday slot for all of its five seasons, the expanded schedule will include 20 additional hours of new programming, all imported from the UK.

“Grantchester,” a new mystery that was a hit in the UK, begins launched this weekend at 10:00pm. “Wolf Hall,” an adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s prize-winning novels, will premiere April 5 at 9:55pm.

Viking River Cruises is providing the funding for the shows exclusively, the station said.

“Arthur & George” focuses on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the iconic novelist. Based on a three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes’ novel, it follows the intersecting lives Doyle and a half-Indian son of a vicar who is framed for a crime.

“Home Fires” focuses on a group of women left behind in a rural English village while their husbands, sons and relatives are called into the service during World War II.

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They must step outside their traditional roles and take on many duties that were left to men during that time.

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