Big changes happening on ‘Downton Abbey’ prequel series ‘The Gilded Age’

Julian Fellowes’ new period drama series was due to begin filming this spring.

The Downton Abbey creator’s latest TV show was picked up by NBC in 2018 with a 10-episode order for the first season.

Set in in 1880s New York City – “a period of immense social upheaval, of huge fortunes made and lost, and of palaces that spanned the length of Fifth Avenue” – The Gilded Age is executive produced by Downton boss Gareth Neame.

A feature-length two-hour pilot was to be directed by Downton Abbey director Michael Engler and casting announcements were expected last year.

However, news on the series has been very quiet in recent months – and now we know why.

The Gilded Age will no longer air on NBC, but will instead be shown on HBO.

HBO programming president Casey Bloys commented: “Given the opulent scope and scale of this richly textured character drama, HBO is the perfect home for The Gilded Age.”

He added: “We’re all huge fans of Julian, and I know I speak for Bob Greenblatt — who was involved in the development of this series while at Universal Television — when I say we’re thrilled to bring his undeniable genius to our viewers.”

NBC Entertainment co-chairs Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks explained the move in a statement: “As with all of our studio projects, our goal is to find them the home that is the best fit for the series.”

They added: “We love the ambition and scope of The Gilded Age, and after a highly competitive bidding process, ultimately came to the conclusion that HBO is the perfect network for this epic story. We can’t wait to partner with them to bring Julian’s majestic drama to audiences all over the globe.”

It’s not yet known if that will delay the series from its planned autumn 2019 premiere date.

The Gilded Age will follow the character of Marian Brook, the wide-eyed young scion of a conservative family who embarks on infiltrating the wealthy neighboring family dominated by ruthless railroad tycoon George Russell, his rakish and available son Larry, and his ambitious wife Bertha, whose ‘new money’ is a barrier to acceptance by the Astor and Vanderbilt set.

The Downton Abbey movie will be released in cinemas in September.

Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection DVD box set is available on Amazon.