Set in a busy gynecology unit, it inhabits a world where abortion is illegal and the new contraceptive pill is only available to married women.
The series will star Jack Davenport, most recently seen on the NBC series "Smash." Other cast members include Zoe Boyle and Iain Glen from "Downton Abbey."
"Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton called "Breathless" a "sharp, visually rich" portrait of characters "on the cusp of change."
"Breathless" is co-created and written by Paul Unwin ("Shameless," "Agatha Christie's Miss Marple" and "Poirot").
Meanwhile, public television plans to extend its revered "NewsHour" program to weekends. The new program, titled "PBS NewsHour Weekend," will be, strangely, just a half-hour long.
Beginning Sept. 7, it is to air every Saturday and Sunday from the studios of WNET in Lincoln Center in New York City.
Current "NewsHour" correspondent Hari Sreenivasan will anchor the broadcast. Sreenivasan has been with "NewsHour" since 2009.
He also serves as the show's director of digital partnerships. Before PBS, he was with CBS and ABC in their news divisions.
The use of online and social media is expected to play a more prominent role in the weekend program.
"NewsHour" has aired on PBS since 1975, when it was launched by co-anchors Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil. It has distinguished itself from other nightly news broadcasts in its length (a full hour) and its more studied approach to news events, avoiding the much-reviled sound bite.
MacNeil retired in 1995, and Lehrer stepped down from his job as anchor in 2011, though he makes occasional appearances.
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