PBS responds


Several Gentle Readers have written to PBS to complain about the editing of the first four films in the series, and have shared the responses with us. They all seem to be a copy and paste (or very close to it) of the information given in this post on the PBS forums.

Some of our vigilant viewers noted that MASTERPIECE’s versions of the Austen programs varied from those seen in the UK. As we’ve discussed in various forums, our programs are routinely edited to fit our PBS time slot, which is different from the UK’s. Depending on whether our UK partner is producing for a commercial broadcaster or the BBC (i.e., commercial breaks vs. no commercial breaks), the episodes may vary from between 3-5 minutes to 10 or more. In the case of Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, approximately ten minutes were deleted from each film. Almost always, it is the UK producers who determine which scenes should be trimmed from the U.S. broadcast. Our goal is to deliver to you the film that is closest to the original intent of the producers.

The good news is that many MASTERPIECE films are becoming more widely available around the world than ever before thanks to DVD and home video offerings. Because of various formats and contract stipulations in different parts of the world, there may be some differences in content. In some cases, a DVD available in the US or Canada (such as those released by WGBH Boston Video) may only contain the US version, while in others, a DVD may contain the original UK version. This is further complicated by the fact that running times that appear on various websites may be an approximation of the running time, or more frequently the timeslot of the film was intended for (e.g., a 100-minute film may run in a 120 minute timeslot, and that longer timeslot information may end up on websites, DVD packaging, etc., despite the actual shorter running time of the film). While we can’t control the marketplace, we will be happy to post DVD information on the MASTERPIECE website when available that may inform your purchasing decisions.

Imagine our astonishment when tonight’s presentation of Pride and Prejudice–which just about every Janeite we know already owns, sometimes in multiple copies–was two hours long.