Great British Drama: Downton Abbey

The Crawley Sisters

The Maids of Downton

Apologies if the post title came across just a little too BBCish for your liking, but those three words are true to form if you cast a surreptitious eye over the television schedule for the coming months. Recently on the blog I’ve begun musing on other aspects of life apart from fashion, so forgive me if this post isn’t to your taste, but I really do appreciate decent television, especially if it involves fine acting and mouth-watering costumes. In my humble opinion, the BBC really do always come out on top drama-wise; maybe they just have the nack of finding the right script-writers and casting directors, or maybe I just favour their channels more due to the (thankful) lack of advertising breaks. However, there is one non-BBC programme I have fallen for so let’s kick of my first ‘Great British Drama’ post with that…

ITV’s Downton Abbey was always going to be a hit, a fact I already knew when I wrote my costume study of the first series post last October. Not many 7-episode period dramas can claim a (reportedly) six million pound budget and an exceptional cast and since its début last Autumn it has been labelled as “Gosford Park the second time around, only better”. The cast list certainly speaks for itself with Maggie Smith,  Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle,  Michelle Dockery, Joanne Frogatt and Dan Stevens to name but a few.

Even if you didn’t watch the first series that is no reason not to jump on the bandwagon now, especially once you’ve read my very brief synopsis: aristocratic family, The Crawleys – no it doesn’t sound exceptionally elite but we’ll live and let live –  reside in a huge stately home, Downton Abbey, and are painfully out-staffed by their array of maids, footmen, valets, butler and housekeeper. One of the main themes of the first series is the attempts to marry off eldest Crawley daughter, Lady Mary, to ensure that Downton will have an heir.

But that isn’t it, oh no. The tale of life upstairs and downstairs are weaved together making the show as much about the staff as their employers. Maggie Smith provides many entertaining on-screen moments – usually when she is baffled by a ‘modern’ concept. The moment when she demanded to be told, “The weekend?  What is a weekend?” was priceless. If you need even more persuading read seven reasons why series two of  Downton Abbey will be even better than series one – I implore you not to laugh!  The new eight-part series begins on on Sunday September 18th at 9pm on ITV1.

Coming soon, press office information about these series (previous posts about them in brackets)…

Upstairs Downstairs, Sherlock and The Hour!

Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery

Jessica Brown-Findlay as Lady Sybil

Highclere - The Set of Downton Abbey

7 thoughts on “Great British Drama: Downton Abbey

  1. I like that striped dress 🙂

    And yes that beaded one would be amazing for a Christmas party! Uh oh, you are planting time-consuming ideas in my mind .. 🙂

    Thank you for your vote!!!

  2. I’m not much for historic dramas, but this sounds very interesting and their costumes are awesome! I just might have to check it out!

    xx Raez

  3. I loved that line about ‘what is a weekend’, too! Oh Alexandra, I love this post. Please don’t feel you need to apologise about posting outside the area of fashion – that’s just what I plan to do with my blog (well, I’m already cheating: I post photos of fashion, and then go and write about whatever the hell I feel like, you might have noticed – even birds!)

    I came here to copy & paste the long reply I wrote on my own post (below) but then read every word of this. I agree with David (Nyanzi) – I loved the first series and time has flown – I’m so glad it’s out on the 18th. I’ve met Julian Fellowes – he did a talk on screenwriting and I spoke with him after – I was actually pretty shy – and I asked to send him my work. I felt Gosford Park was one of the best written, directed, acted, edited piece of cinema (actually, the assistant editor was a friend of mine, a talented girl based in NYC). I’ve worked on a screen adaptation to a Leslie Thomas novel, set during WW2, and there is a character so perfect for Maggie Smith: she is just my absolute living legend.

    Okay – I’d better run – here’s the copy of what I replied on my own post:

    Alexandra: you are such an absolute darling!!! (and yes, totally agree re: the RSPCA – I wish I could find the piece, I’d send it to you). But also: I can’t wait for you to read the piece she wrote! It blew me away: clever, funny, beautifully written, of course, but also.. she writes with such HEART. Really moving. An incredible achievement in such a ‘superficial’ medium like a fashion magazine. I’d love to hear your thoughts, when you read it. Actually.. I’m going to write this on YOUR blog now, too! : )

    Lovely day, Alexandra. And Daniela’s right: what a great idea for a themed party. I was so disappointed in the remake of Upstairs, Downstairs – it was just dreadful – but this series really has that Julian Fellowes touch. His novels aren’t bad, either, but what he does best is screenwriting. xxx

  4. I am so excited about Downton Abbey! The first series was just brilliant. Although even more than that I am looking forward to Sherlock. I’m sure that having telly series feature quite so prominently in my life is not healthy, but never mind!

    And I agree with Jill, don’t apologise for going off piste with a non-fashion topic. This sounds unbelievably pretentious, but fashion isn’t just about clothes, it’s about lifestyle choices and the things that inspire us. Thanks to Downton Abbey I feel justified in continuing my fixation with cloche hats and long skirts. And as for Sherlock, I need that blue coat!

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