The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 13, 2013

Free ‘Downton Abbey’ preview planned


— As anticipation grows for the season four premiere of the award-winning “Downton Abbey” public television series, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and The Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre will bring a free screening to area residents.

The screening is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 17 at The Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre located in Uptown Beckley. The screening is free and open to the public and seating will be based on first to arrive.

Sir Walter’s Tavern, located downstairs in the theater, will open at 5 p.m. to serve drinks and food before the screening begins, and will be open after as well. Door prizes related to the “Downton Abbey” series will be given away.

“We are so excited to be teaming up with West Virginia Public Broadcasting to make this event possible,” said Sarah Swiger, box office manager at The Raleigh. “We are proud to be the host venue and cannot wait to see residents out in full force to experience this great opportunity to see the first hour of season four before it is even available in the U.S.”

The new season doesn’t premiere on television until Jan. 5, but West Virginia Public Broadcasting got special permission to allow area residents to see the first hour of the series before that happens.

“’Downton Abbey’ has been a phenomenal success for us,” said Eddie Isom of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, organizer of the event. “There has been great anticipation since we left off last year with a big cliffhanger. You hear about ‘Downton Abbey’ everywhere. It’s become a part of pop culture in many ways. We are really happy to be able to see it on the big screen before it hits the small screen.”

West Virginia Public Broadcasting conducted unscientific surveys at festivals throughout the state during the summer, including Taste of Appalachia in Beckley, and found that “Downton Abbey,” part of the “Masterpiece” series airing Sunday nights, was one of the most popular programs among the state’s viewers.

“Because we are publicly funded, it’s vitally important that we remain connected with the communities we serve outside of our television and radio broadcasts,” Isom said. “Events like these are important because they give the public an opportunity to meet us and give us feedback about our services.”