TODAY   |  January 07, 2013

‘Downton Abbey’ season premiere buzzing worldwide

The biggest success in the 40-year history of PBS’ Masterpiece Theater, “Downton Abbey” launched its third season Monday night. The period drama has been ratings gold in the U.S., Denmark, Singapore, Brazil, and more. NBC’s Andrea Canning reports.

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>>> new season of downton abbey premiered last night. for devoted fans, like savannah, it couldn't have come soon enough. andrea canning has this story.

>> this is why i love savannah. we need to get you on board, matt.

>> i'm there.

>> produced by nbc universal is now popular in 200 countries. based on the buzz here in the states it's only growing in popularit popularity. it's a sophisticated soap opera set in the 1920s , english countryside that's become a modern day must-see hit around the world.

>> it means that deep down --

>> reporter: this is downton abse abbey, following the lavish lives of bluebloods and their counterparts, living under this estate, four times the size of new york's central park .

>> if any of you want to explore downton abbey, here's your chance.

>> in the 40-year history of pbs' masterpiece theater .

>> it really started as something that had a cult following but the audience has grown to be so big that it's nothing shorter than a phenomenon.

>> reporter: it's not just the states. downton abbey is the most watched drama in denmark and singapore and brazil. it's popular in israel, ice land and even crumpets to china.

>> a lot of sex, romance, some death and good old-fashioned backstabbing will really connect with an audience.

>> reporter: the excitement in the u.s. extends beyond just turning on the tv. from a spike in vintage dress sales to elaborate viewing parties complete with skoen scones and hats. why a party?

>> it makes you want to celebrate, seeing all the gorgeous sets and costume designs makes people want to do that in their own home.

>> reporter: with season three off to a strong start, downton shows no signs of slowing down.

>> certainly the highest popularity it's ever been right now. but i don't think it's reached its peak. there's no saying just how big the show still can get.

>> reporter: thousands are now flocking to tour the castle where downton abbey is filmed and the demand for butlers has increased. some trivia?

>> yeah, sure.

>> my great grandfather was a butler for eight british prime ministers , including churchill. my family love this is show.

>> right up your alley.

>> why didn't you bring any tea and crumpets? we're huge fans. it's aired in the u.k. already, season three.

>> savannah knows --

>> leave that aside.

>> way overboard on that. off camera, they walk around in corsets and --

>> darling.