UK broadcaster ITV has tapped Julian Fellowes, the creator of hit drama Downton Abbey, to present a two-part factual series looking at England’s great houses.
The tentatively titled Julian Fellowes’s Historical Houses (2 x 60-minutes) is being made by Chocolate Media, which is owned by NBCUniversal International Television Production.
“The great houses of Britain have for centuries been the guardians of much of our history, not just of the families who built and lived in them, but of the people who worked there, of the local area, of all of us,” said Fellowes.
“Where they have remained in the hands of the original families, the archives are rich in their stories and I have been on the trail of just a few of these.”
The two-parter was commissioned for flagship terrestrial channel ITV1 by factual commissioning editor Diana Howie and director of factual and daytime Alison Sharman. It is directed by Louise Wardle and Jenny Dames, the series producer is Louise Wardle, and the exec producer is Alan Brown.
“Julian Fellowes is a master of his craft and we’re thrilled he will be bringing his exceptional knowledge and character to a factual format on ITV1,” said Howie.
In related news, ITV has confirmed that it is planning to air a second documentary on late British TV personality Jimmy Savile.
Its first documentary on the disgraced presenter kicked off a major controversy in the UK, featuring allegations that the former Top of the Pops host and Jim’ll Fix It star sexually abused scores of children.
The special, entitled Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy, aired on October 4, prompting UK police agency Scotland Yard to launch a major criminal investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by Savile over six decades.
The police agency has now described him as a “predatory sex offender” and stated that it is pursuing over 400 lines of inquiry based on the testimony of 300 potential victims. The scandal had resulted in inquiries or reviews at a range of UK institutions, including the BBC, the National Health Service, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Department of Health, with the BBC among those making a public apology.
The second, as-yet-untitled Exposure documentary will be produced by ITV Studios, with further details set to be released by ITV in due course.