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Mad Men airs early to beat illegal downloading

The BBC is to broadcast the next series of Mad Men four months early to help to tackle illegal downloading of the show.

The fourth run of the acclaimed series, set in a New York advertising agency in the Sixties, will be transmitted next month. It began on the American cable network AMC last month. Previous series were shown on BBC Four nearly six months after they were broadcast in the US.

By showing its 13 episodes from September 8 the BBC will hope to build on positive American reviews and prevent illegal downloading.

Schedulers will also be aware of the US Emmy awards, to be broadcast on NBC on August 29.

Mad Men has 17 nominations, more than any other drama series, and award success would provide a welcome boost to ratings at the start of the new series a week later.

The move follows Sky 1's simultaneous broadcast with American television of the last episode of Lost this year. Tim Teeman, The Times's New York correspondent and former TV critic, awarded the first episode of the new season four stars out of five and described it as "pleasurable".


The opening episode is set at Thanksgiving weekend, 1964. The programme's ambivalent hero, Don Draper, is facing a fresh start in business in his own agency and life as a single man after his separation from his wife.

The series has, however, been more popular with critics than audiences in Britain, where the ratings have been disappointing, even though it has been shown on on both BBC Four and BBC Two.

Last month Lynne Featherstone, the British Equalities Minister, praised the show's Christina Hendricks as being the perfect role model for girls.

She said that the size-14 actress was "absolutely fabulous".