Downton Abbey is a new ITV television series from England, which alas, we have not yet received on this side of the pond. Thankfully, we have this teaser to whet our appetites which is a "making of" piece by Helen James. It explains that Downton Abbey is an English Country Home, the seat of the Earl and Countess of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern). The Earl and Countess, otherwise known as Robert and Cora Crawley, are the head of this aristocratic family. Cora was an American heiress who marries into the English aristocracy, bringing her fortune to help sustain her husband's costly estate.
This Post-Edwardian drama begins in 1912 just after the sinking of the Titanic, and the first season ends at the beginning of the Great War. It is written by Julian Fellowes, who wrote the screenplay for Gosford Park, and has some similarities to that wonderful film, in that it has the contrast between the servants downstairs and the moneyed family upstairs, with the twist of having an American lady of the house.
Some standouts are Dame Maggie Smith, who plays Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Cora's mother-in-law), Hugh Bonneville as the Earl and Brendan Coyle, who plays John Bates, the newly hired valet who was injured in the Boer War.
|Maggie Smith as Violet, the Dowager Countess|
|Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, the Countess|
|Brendan Coyle as Bates the lame Valet|
|Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham|
The location, also a standout, is Highclere Castle, in Hampshire England and the series is worth watching for the gorgeous scenery alone. The home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, Highclere Castle is open to visitors during summer weekends and select holidays during the year. It is also available for weddings and events, presumably in order to assist the owners in the expensive upkeep of such a magnificent house and grounds. I'm sure the income from the filming of this series will help with a few repairs around the place too...
|Highclere Castle with the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon|