Frequently Asked Questions
From watching MASTERPIECE on air or online, to finding your favorite MASTERPIECE DVDs, we've answered your most commonly asked questions below.
Can I watch MASTERPIECE programs online?
Visit the MASTERPIECE Watch Online page to check for full episodes, previews and short videos available at any given time. Sign up for the MASTERPIECE e-Newsletter to hear about new video highlights (full episodes and short-form video). You can sign up for the e-Newsletter on many pages of this site in the right column.
I am having difficulty watching a MASTERPIECE program online. What should I do?
Problems viewing video online can relate to various issues – your computer configuration, browser version, Internet service provider, network traffic, etc. While we are unable offer assistance on an individual basis, you may want to try viewing the video at another time as heavy traffic during peak hours can cause issues. Also, make sure that your browsers are up-to-date with the latest versions. Also, make sure you are running the latest version of your preferred browser and your plug-ins are up-to-date.
If you have an ongoing video technical issue, you can visit our Feedback page.
I can’t view MASTERPIECE video online at all. What’s the problem?
For the majority of our videos, MASTERPIECE has the legal right to stream them only in the United States and Territories. Other broadcasters acquire the rights for other countries and regions and their ownership rights need to be protected. While we recognize that this is problematic for many Canadian members of PBS stations and MASTERPIECE fans, we are unfortunately unable to offer this video to a wider audience.
When will a program air? When will it repeat?
The MASTERPIECE broadcast schedule page on this website lists national airdates, but each local PBS station is free to determine its own broadcast and repeat schedules. If you have a question about broadcast schedules or repeat broadcasts, please check your local television listings.
Are MASTERPIECE programs edited for broadcast?
All of our programs originate in the UK and are produced to fit UK television standard slot lengths. Many are edited to fit our PBS time slot, which is different from those in the UK.
Editing to fit television's time slots is a fact of life for almost all programming.
When faced with the need to edit, we take it very seriously and approach our editing decisions with great care. Almost always, it is the UK producers who determine and edit the scenes to 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.
I am having a hard time understanding the dialogue of a MASTERPIECE program.
MASTERPIECE productions are recorded and mixed primarily for a UK audience with a "British ear" that is accustomed to a wide range of dialects and actors' speech mannerisms. It's true that some lines of dialogue can be challenging for US audiences, especially when mixed with background sound effects (e.g., carriage wheels on gravel).
We're keenly aware of these issues and re-mix a number of our programs from their original UK standard. We also have the actors re-voice lines we think are hard to comprehend. Nevertheless, there can still be moments that are difficult to make out. In such cases, we recommend that viewers turn on the closed captioning function on their TV/cable box.
A narrator is describing everything that is happening in the program. How do I make that stop?
Descriptive Video Service (DVS) descriptions are controlled by the Second Audio Program (SAP) audio channel setting on your television. The service provides enriched verbal descriptions of what is heard and seen in a television program's primary audio and video channels. This narration is primarily designed for use by viewers who are blind or visually impaired.
To disable this accessibility feature, access the SAP settings through your television's digital menu system. The selector is usually labeled SAP, MTS, Audio 2, or Audio B. Turning the SAP channel OFF should eliminate the audio description and solve your problem.
I would like to learn more about a program that aired on MASTERPIECE. Where can I look for more information?
As you might imagine, with more than 40 years on air and many hundreds of individual programs, we have a long and rich tradition of which we are very proud. For information on more recent programs (2008-present), visit the Programs section of the MASTERPIECE website. For programs prior to that, you can consult our program history page. For more detailed information, you can visit our archive database. (Please note that some of this material is in need of updates. We appreciate your patience and understanding.) Also, don’t forget about the site search function to more directly find what you need.
Are programs available on demand from my cable company?
Select MASTERPIECE programs may be available for a limited time only in your area from your local cable company. Check your on-demand service and contact your local cable provider and/or your local PBS station for more information on availability.
Can I watch MASTERPIECE programs via iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc?
You will find some MASTERPIECE programs on these and other video services. If you search using “MASTERPIECE” as your key word, you may not find the available offerings. We’d instead suggest you search on the individual program titles (i.e., Downton Abbey, Sherlock, etc.).
Can you re-air programs from the past?
Unfortunately, we no longer hold the broadcast rights to many favorite programs from the past. However, many past programs are available on DVD/home video. Check Shop PBS or your favorite e-commerce and video sites for a selection of available programs.
What is the schedule for next season?
You can download a PDF of the current MASTERPIECE season schedule and also learn more on the Schedule page. The schedule for MASTERPIECE is revised and updated frequently as it is in ongoing development throughout the year. As soon as updates become publically available, we post them to the website.
I would like to subscribe, unsubscribe or change my email address for the MASTERPIECE e-Newsletter.
The MASTERPIECE e-Newsletter offers regular program updates, access to exclusive content before it is available to the general public, advance notice of series sweepstakes and more. To subscribe, look for the e-mail sign up box on the right of every page the MASTERPIECE website.
Why do I have to see sponsorship messaging on the website?
Corporate sponsors such as Viking River Cruises and others help defray costs for the MASTERPIECE broadcast on PBS and on PBS.ORG. In conjunction with their credit on-air, we're happy to have them take a bow on our website as well.
I want to know more about a plot for an episode of MASTERPIECE. You publish a synopsis for each episode?
We frequently make two synopses available for each episode – one short and one long. (The long synopses, which contain significant plot spoilers, are not posted until after broadcast.) You can find each from the main page for each program. Consult the Programs section of this website or search on the program name.
Is a MASTERPIECE program I’m looking for available for purchase?
If you haven't already done so, we encourage you to visit ShopPBS.org. Here you'll find a list of many MASTERPIECE programs currently available. Unfortunately, not all MASTERPIECE programs from the past are currently available on DVD/home video. Others are available, but we do not retain the rights to sell them; you may be able to locate them via an Internet search of your own.
Why aren’t all past MASTERPIECE programs on DVD?
MASTERPIECE doesn't control the home video distribution of most of the programs that aired as part of our series. As such, we can't speculate on why certain programs are available or not, other than to note that it’s a good bet that market economics are a factor in the decision for these program distributors.
I have a program suggestion, or would like to submit a script for your consideration.
MASTERPIECE programs primarily originate with our producing partners in the UK. We're always reviewing books, scripts, and plays for possible co-production, but they come to us from those partners who can provide the majority of the financing for any given project. We are unable to accept any direct script submissions.
I’m interesting in working at MASTERPIECE.
MASTERPIECE is produced by WGBH in Boston. Visit the WGBH Employment Opportunities web page to learn more about employment opportunities at WGBH.