TV show gives boost to declining castle

"Downton Abbey", a hit British TV series about the lives of a noble family on the eve of WWI, is having an effect far beyond television ratings. The show is set at the real-life Highclere Castle in Berkshire, England. The castle is deteriorating and it need of costly repairs.

Interest in the castle has surged since the show came out, and the owners think they will get enough revenue from visitors and filming fees to make major renovations. The owners anticipate another surge in interest after "Downton Abbey" airs in the United States in January 2011.

The earliest standing parts of Highclere Castle date to the 14th century and the current family has lived there since 1679. The bulk of the castle was renovated in the "High Renaissance" style in the 1840's.