When TV Guide wrote about "Downton Abbey" last February, it marked the first time a PBS primetime series had been on the heralded magazine's cover in more than 30 years. The show, a period piece about a Yorkshire estate in the early 1900s, has earned top ratings in Columbus, too, said WOSU Public Media's marketing and communications director Meredith Hart.

When TV Guide wrote about “Downton Abbey” last February, it marked the first time a PBS primetime series had been on the heralded magazine’s cover in more than 30 years. The show, a period piece about a Yorkshire estate in the early 1900s, has earned top ratings in Columbus, too, said WOSU Public Media’s marketing and communications director Meredith Hart.

Season 3 of the series airs this Sunday night, but WOSU Public Media is letting fans watch it early for free this Saturday at the Southern Theatre.

Before the show is a tea party at the Westin Columbus (sorry, latecomers, this event sold out in two weeks). On-hand will be a quartet from the Columbus Musicians LLC performing music from the era, a professor from the OSU history department to discuss food in England during the turn of the century, and, of course, tea and scones.

“Being able to provide a unique experience for our local viewers of this much-lauded show was an easy decision,” Hart said.

It doesn’t hurt that there’s a loyal legion of “Downton Abbey” fans at WOSU Public Media’s offices. Tom Rieland, the team’s general manager, is a Downton devotee. He’ll be at the tea in a bowler hat. Say cheerio!