January 19, 2013

'Downton Abbey' vs. Patriots conflict splits Maine families

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: TV choice

Which will you be watching Sunday night?


Downtown Abbey


View Results

click image to enlarge

Gillian and Jim Britt have solved their differences on whether they'll watch 'Downton Abbey' or the Patriots in the AFC Championship on Sunday: Using a picture-in-picture feature, they'll watch both.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

"I'm really in conflict with myself over this," said Karl Turner, 70, a retiree and former Republican state senator from Cumberland. "When I saw the football game was starting at 6:30 p.m., I thought, 'How am I going to watch them both?'"

Turner is a volunteer board member at MPBN, so he decided to call the network and ask what he could do. He was relieved to find out that Sunday's episode of "Downton Abbey" will be available on the network's website after midnight Sunday, barring any technical difficulties.

Lots of people in conflict have been calling MPBN, ever since the network Thursday afternoon launched its "Downton Abbey" Football Conflict Support Line -- 330-4549. The hotline was MPBN's lighthearted response to folks wondering if they could watch "Downton Abbey" in some way, at some time, that wouldn't conflict with the Patriots.

The phone line features an automated voice talking about "conflict" and "crisis" and then telling folks about the online option beginning Monday, and a re-airing of the episode on MPBN TV on Jan. 27 at 8 p.m.

The phone line was activated around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, and less than 24 hours later more than 300 calls had been logged.

"And it's not simply Tom Brady and Wes Welker versus Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary in households that we have heard from," said Cory Morrissey, director of marketing and public relations for MPBN. "The line between who is watching which program is really blurred here as fans of the show are, not surprisingly, also New England fans and vice-versa. They are definitely torn."

Clyde Williams, a retiree living in Hallowell, said he and his wife are both big football fans, so he's pretty sure they'll watch the Patriots game until it's done. But his wife is also a "Downton Abbey" fan, so she might watch that the next day online.

Then again, Williams said, he might switch the TV to "Downton Abbey" Sunday if the Patriots end up frustrating him, which he says they often do. He's been a fan since the team was created, but he says he has a hard time watching the offense stall out, or watching poor play.

"For a fan like me, a good game is when they take an early lead and hold it, or blow the other team out," said Williams.

Like Williams, the Britts only have one TV, and they say they don't remember ever needing to use the "picture-in-picture" feature before.

Jim Britt grew up in Ohio, where he was a Cleveland Browns fan, and moved here around 1994, just when the Patriots were getting good after years of mediocrity. He quickly adopted the team, so he's pretty psyched for Sunday's game and a potential shot at a Super Bowl title.

As for Gillian Britt, she's still a little skeptical that "picture-in-picture" technology will let them both have the viewing experience they truly want.

"We never use it. I don't even know how it works," she said. "Maybe we can switch over to the football game when things slow down on 'Downton Abbey.' Maybe when Maggie Smith isn't in a scene."

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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Today's poll: TV choice

Which will you be watching Sunday night?


Downtown Abbey


View Results



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