The producers

If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey — and really, who isn’t — you’ve no doubt seen this a few times:

“Funding for Masterpiece is provided by the Masterpiece Trust, created to ensure the series future, with support from Donald and Darlene Shiley and the following…”

“The following” change episode to episode, but the Shileys remain at the top of the list.  You’ll even see their names as supporters of Masterpiece Mystery.

Which got me thinking — who are Donald and Darlene Shiley? Should I know their names already?  And can I personally thank them for ‘ensuring the future’ and very existence of Downton Abbey?

Sadly, Donald died in August of last year, but not before he made tremendous contributions as a doctor and philanthropist.  Shiley collaborated with Swedish cardiologist Dr. Viking Bjork to develop the Bjork-Shiley heart valve, which is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

He also contributed millions to research centers in San Diego which bear his name. The Shiley Eye Center at UC San Diego. The Shiley Center for Science and Technology at the University of San Diego. The Donald P. Shiley Cardiovascular Research Center at San Diego State University.

He and his wife Darlene have given millions to Alzheimers research, the Scripps Clinic, The Old Globe Theater and KPBS.  (She worked as a TV public service director and promotions manager before their marriage.)

So now, each time I sit down to enjoy another addictive episode of Downton Abbey, I’ll smile knowing an even greater love story made the whole darn thing possible.

6 responses to “The producers

  1. I am a fan of Downton Abbey and much PBS programming.
    However, I have been trying–in vain–to persuade our local channel,
    Thirteen, to remove their obtrusive logo, THIRTEEN, from the bottom of the screen during programming. It destroys mood and content and demonstrates disrespect for the viewer. I was hoping sponsors would be willing to help.

  2. I do not know if this will reach Darlene Shiley, but I hope it does.

    First let me extend to you my sympathy on the loss of your cherished husband. But because of your union you have brought joy to thousands of people. What a legacy!

    My second comment is to thank you for your support of Masterpiece Theatre. Your generosity allows those in the USA and Canada (where I live) to enjoy this outstanding programming.

    Your love affair and the great work that has come out of it is an amazing story.

    Thank you

    Susan James

  3. Thank You for all you have both done.

  4. I think Darlene is one hot lady with a tremendous light shinig from behind her eyes….I hope she reads this because shes one fine woyman

  5. Mary Ann Barnett

    Thank you for what you have done

  6. Exactly what I always wondered, too. “Who is that generous woman with the beautiful infectious smile?” So on Googling her name, I’ve learned the story of Donald and Darlene Shiley. And so I can see that the bright spirit that glows from her face is validated by the generosity and goodness done by her and her wonderful husband’s foundation. Thank you Darelene Shiley!

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