NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - You may have been among the millions to tune into the fifth season premiere of PBS' "Downtown Abbey" Sunday.
One Stephen F. Austin State University professor did, but not before watching a documentary produced in response to the global sensation of "Downton."
The Nacogdoches woman appears in the Smithsonian Channel special titled, "Million Dollar Princesses."
Like so many viewers, SFA associate professor of history Dr. Dana Cooper is hooked on "Downton Abbey." The author is intrigued with actress Elizabeth McGovern's character, the American Cora Crawley, countess of Grantham.
"I thought, 'Oh my goodness, she's exactly the woman I've been researching," Cooper said.
The American heiresses married into the British aristocracy is the topic of Cooper's newly published book. Cooper's expertise on the marriages landed her appearances in the Smithsonian Channel's documentary, "Million Dollar Princesses," narrated by none other than Elizabeth McGovern.
"We went from the documentary straight to 'Downton Abbey,'" Cooper said.
Cooper couldn't wait to see what producers selected from the three-hour interview conducted last June in New York. She's understanding the power of the three second sound bite.
"To see the documentary last night and to see what was edited out, what was kept, what was changed and so on was really fascinating.so very quick clips," Cooper said. "Three seconds here, seven seconds there. You think, 'That's where those three hours went.'"
Just like in 'Downton Abbey,' the scandals get the air time.
"They want the national enquirer version of history," Cooper said. "What's a bit salacious, what's going to get some attention, what's going to get people to watch the documentary, to keep turning the pages of the book and so on."
Cooper said she totally approves. She knows these informal ambassadors, such as Jennie Churchill, weren't always faithful to their spouses.
"So yes, I discussed Jennie, in addition to her husband's affairs, her affairs, and it was really quite typical of the day," Cooper said.
Cooper knows historical facts can be just as entertaining as fiction.
Repeat airings of "Million Dollar Princesses" are being shown on the Smithsonian Channel.
Subsequent episodes will air January 11 and 18th. Cooper's book is available now on Amazon.