Downton Abbey


Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey.jpg
Intertitle
Genre Period drama
Created by Julian Fellowes
Written by
Directed by
Starring
Theme music composer John Lunn
Opening theme "Did I Make the Most of Loving You?"
Composer(s) John Lunn
Country of origin United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 15 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Julian Fellowes
  • Gareth Neame
Producer(s)
  • Liz Trubridge (Series Producer)
  • Nigel Marchant
Editor(s)
  • John Wilson
  • Steve Singleton
  • Mike Jones
Running time 45–67 minutes
(excluding commercial breaks)
Production company(s)
Broadcast
Original channel ITV (ITV1/STV/UTV)
(also ITV1 HD/STV HD/UTV HD)
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Original airing 26 September 2010 – present
External links
Website

Downton Abbey is a British television period drama series, produced by NBC Universal-owned British media company Carnival Films for the ITV network. The series is set during the late Edwardian era (after Edward VII's death) and the First World War on the fictional estate of Downton Abbey in Yorkshire, and features an ensemble cast. It was created and principally written by actor and writer Julian Fellowes, and premiered on ITV on 26 September 2010.

Reception of the programme was predominantly positive; ratings were extremely high for what is usually considered a 'genre' show, and the first series picked up a number of awards and nominations after its initial run. It has subsequently become the most successful British costume drama since the 1981 television serial version of Brideshead Revisited,[1] and in 2011 it entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the 'most critically acclaimed television show' for the year, becoming the first British show to win the accolade.[2]

On 3 November 2011, ITV confirmed that a third series has been commissioned and will be broadcast from September 2012.[3]

Contents

Overview

Highclere Castle, used for interior and exterior filming of Downton Abbey

The series is set in the fictional Downton Abbey, the Yorkshire country house of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants early in the reign of George V. The first series spans the two years prior to the Great War, commencing with news of the sinking of the Titanic, an event that sets the story in motion. The second series covers the years 1916 to 1919.

Highclere Castle in Hampshire[4] was used for exterior shots of Downton Abbey as well as for the majority of the interior filming. The servants' living areas were constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios.[5]

The village of Bampton in Oxfordshire was used for filming the outdoor scenes, most notably St Mary's Church and the village library, which serves as the entrance to the cottage hospital.[6] The North Yorkshire towns of Malton, Thirsk, Easingwold, Kirkby, Kirkbymoorside, Middlesbrough, Ripon and Richmond have also been mentioned by characters in the series.

The first series cost an estimated £1 million per episode, and is the most successful British period drama since Brideshead Revisited, with British ratings exceeding 10 million viewers.[1] The series was also well received in the United States, averaging over 6 million viewers per episode.[7]

Cast

Main cast

Crawley family

Actor Character Relation Series
Hugh Bonneville The Right Honourable Robert, Earl of Grantham The Earl and the head of the Crawley family 1–present
Elizabeth McGovern The Rt Hon Cora, Countess of Grantham The American wife of the Earl 1–present
Michelle Dockery Lady Mary Crawley Eldest daughter of the Earl 1–present
Laura Carmichael Lady Edith Crawley Second daughter of the Earl 1–present
Jessica Brown-Findlay Lady Sybil Crawley Youngest daughter of the Earl 1–present
Maggie Smith The Rt Hon Violet, Countess of Grantham Dowager Countess and the Earl's mother 1–present
Dan Stevens Mr Matthew Crawley Third cousin once removed of the Earl;
Heir presumptive to the title and estate
1–present
Penelope Wilton Mrs Isobel Crawley Matthew's mother 1–present

Staff

Actor Character Position Series
Jim Carter Charles Carson Butler 1–present
Phyllis Logan Mrs Elsie Hughes Housekeeper 1–present
Brendan Coyle John Bates Lord Grantham's Valet 1–present
Siobhan Finneran Sarah O'Brien Lady Grantham's Maid 1–present
Joanne Froggatt Anna Smith, later Anna Bates Head housemaid 1–present
Thomas Howes William Mason Footman 1–2
Rob James-Collier Thomas Barrow Footman 1–present
Rose Leslie Gwen Dawson Housemaid 1
Amy Nuttall Ethel Parks[8][9] Housemaid 2[10]
Lesley Nicol Mrs Beryl Patmore Cook 1–present
Sophie McShera Daisy Robinson, later Daisy Mason Kitchen maid 1–present

Recurring and guest cast

Actor Character Position Series
Zoe Boyle Miss Lavinia Catherine Swire Matthew Crawley's fiancée 2
Allen Leech Tom Branson Chauffeur 1–present
Clare Calbraith Jane Moorsum Housemaid 2
Samantha Bond Lady Rosamund Painswick Sister of the Earl 1–present
Andrew Westfield Lynch Groom 1
Kevin Doyle Joseph Molesley Matthew Crawley's butler and valet 1–present
Christine Lohr Mrs Bird Matthew Crawley's cook 1–present
David Robb Dr. Richard Clarkson Medical doctor 1–present
Cal Macaninch Henry Lang Lord Grantham's Valet 2
Sharon Small Marigold Shore Lady Rosamund's maid CS
Lionel Guyett Taylor Former chauffeur 1
Robert Bathurst Sir Anthony Strallan Family friend and suitor of Lady Edith 1
Brendan Patricks The Hon. Evelyn Napier Suitor for Lady Mary 1
Charlie Cox Duke of Crowborough Suitor for Lady Mary 1
Jonathan Coy Mr George Murray Lord Grantham's lawyer 1
Nicky Henson Mr Charles Grigg Former colleague of Carson's 1
Theo James Mr Kemal Pamuk Ottoman Empire Embassy attaché 1
Bill Fellows Joe Burns Mrs. Hughes's former suitor 1
Fergus O'Donnell John Drake Farmer on the Grantham estate 1, 2
Cathy Sara Mrs Drake Wife of Mr Drake 1, 2
Nigel Havers Lord Hepworth CS [11]
Iain Glen Sir Richard Carlisle Lady Mary's fiancé 2–present
Maria Doyle Kennedy Vera Bates [12] Wife of Mr Bates 2
Daniel Pirrie Major Charles Bryant[9] Wounded soldier 2
Paul Copley Mr. Mason[13] Farmer and William's father 2
Trevor White Patrick Gordon Possible heir 2
Kevin McNally Mr. Bryant Major Bryant's father 2
Christine Mackie Mrs. Bryant Major Bryant's mother 2

Episodes

Series one

The first series started on 26 September 2010, and explored the lives of the Crawley family and their staff from the day after the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912 to the outbreak of the First World War on 4 August 1914. Much of the focus is on the need for a male heir to the Grantham estate, and the troubled love life of Lady Mary as she attempts to find herself a suitable husband. The device that sets the drama in motion is the entail that accompanies the (fictional) Earldom of Grantham, which endows both title and estate exclusively to heirs male. This is complicated by the fact that the estate had been near financial ruin, and was only saved when the present Earl, then the heir apparent, contracted a wealthy marriage with an extremely rich American heiress. Upon marriage, her considerable fortune was contractually incorporated into the comital entail in perpetuity. The Earl, having had only three daughters and no son, had arranged for his elder daughter to marry her cousin, and son to the heir presumptive, thus keeping both title and estate within the immediate family. The demise of both heirs presumptive in the sinking of the Titanic destroys the family plans and brings a distant cousin, a young solicitor from Manchester, in line to inherit everything, including the personal wealth of the Countess, who will not be able to bequeath it to her daughters.

Series two

In 2010, Laura Mackie, ITV Director of Drama Commissioning, confirmed that the drama would return for a second series in 2011:

We're delighted with the audience response to Downton Abbey and the positive critical reaction. We're extremely proud to have commissioned a series which has clearly captivated ITV1 viewers. Consequently, we're thrilled to be announcing the recommission of a new series for 2011 which will allow us to spend more time with the Crawley family and their servants.[14]

The second series premiered in the UK on 18 September 2011, and is due to do so in the U.S. on 8 January 2012.[15] There will also be a Christmas special.[16][17]

The series comprises eight episodes, running from the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to the Armistice in 1918. Social equality, redemption and death are big themes of this season. Matthew Crawley, Thomas, and William Mason are off fighting in the war; Tom Branson, an Irishman, is unsure that he wants to fight for the British; and Lord Grantham cannot serve due to his age. Lady Sybil Crawley defies her aristocratic position and joins the Voluntary Aid Detachment.[18][19] Filming began in March 2011.[20]

Michelle Dockery, Dame Maggie Smith, Brendan Coyle, Rob James-Collier, Dan Stevens,[1] Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville,[21] Jessica Brown-Findlay, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, Phyllis Logan[22] and Allen Leech[23] all returned and Cal Macaninch, Iain Glen, Amy Nuttall, Zoe Boyle and Maria Doyle Kennedy joined the cast[24] as the new valet Lang, Sir Richard Carlisle, the new Housemaid Ethel, Miss Lavinia Swire and John Bates' wife Vera respectively.[25] Nigel Havers and Sharon Small will appear in the Christmas special, as Lord Hepworth and Marigold Shore, Lady Rosamund's maid, respectively.[11]

Series three

It was confirmed at the preview of the second series, at Highclere Castle on 29 July 2011,[19] that Fellowes was working on a third series, set after the Armistice and during the 1920s.[19] Amy Nuttall will not return for the third series.[10]

ITV confirmed the commissioning of a third series on 3 November 2011. It will enter production in early 2012, and be broadcast from September 2012.[26]

Reception

Series one

The first episode of Downton Abbey had a consolidated audience of 9.2 million viewers, with a 32% audience share—making it the most successful new drama on any channel since Whitechapel was launched on ITV1 in February 2009. The total audience for the first episode, including repeats and ITV Player viewings, exceeded 11.6 million viewers. This was beaten by the next episode, with a total audience of 11.8 million viewers—including repeats and ITV Player views. Episode three had a 31% share of the viewing audience. The first series finale, along with The X Factor, broadcast on 7 November 2010 helped to achieve ITV1's best Sunday night ratings of 2010.[27] In the US, the series debuted to ratings of 6.7 million, doubling the 2011 season of Masterpiece Classic audience average.[28] Each episode of first season finished in the US with an estimated average of more than six million viewers[29] with a total of 13 million viewers for the first season.[30]

Downton Abbey also broke the record for a single episode viewing on ITV Player, the ITV online catch-up service.[18]

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the first season received an average score of 92, based on 14 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[31] This result earned the show a Guinness World Record in 2011 for ‘Highest critical review ratings for a TV show’, making Downton Abbey the most critically well-received TV show in the world.[32]

Sam Wollaston of The Guardian said,

It's beautifully made—handsome, artfully crafted and acted. Smith, who plays the formidable and disdainful Dowager Countess, has a lovely way of delivering words, always spaced to perfection. This is going to be a treat if you like a lavish period drama of a Sunday evening.[33]

Viewers were critical of the number of advertisement breaks during the first episode (seven in a 90-minute episode), claiming it ruined the continuity of the story. ITV responded by saying that the number of breaks shown complied with Ofcom regulations and that the advertising was necessary to cover the high costs of producing the drama.[34]

Series two

The second series premiered in the UK on 18 September 2011 in the same 9pm slot as the first series with the first episode attracting an average audience of 9 million viewers on ITV1, a 34.6% share.[35] The second episode attracted a similar following with an average of 9.3 million viewers.[36]

Awards and nominations

Downton Abbey was placed tenth on the Top 10 TV programmes of 2010, and came second in the Top 10 TV dramas of 2010 list, beaten only by Doctor Who. It came first in the Top 10 new drama category.[37]

It won two Broadcasting Press Guild awards in 2011. It won Best Drama Series and Julian Fellowes won for writing.[38] It has also won 5 Primetime Emmy Awards.[39]

In September 2011, the show entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the 'most critically acclaimed television show' for the year, becoming the first British show to win the award. It beat American shows Mad Men and Modern Family to the title.[2]

Downton Abbey series is currently up for nominations at the 2012 National Television Awards for Best Drama, Drama Performance: Male for actors Brendan Coyle and Dan Stevens, and Drama Performance: Female for actresses Joanne Froggatt and Michelle Dockery. The awards nominations are voted by the public, the winners announced at the award show, which takes place on 25 January 2012.

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2010 BAFTA Craft Best Fiction Director Brian Percival Won
Sound Award Nigel Heath
Alex Sawyer
Adam Armitage
Mark Holding
Won
2011 Broadcasting Press Guild Best Drama Series Downton Abbey Won
Best Actor Hugh Bonneville Nominated
Best Actress Maggie Smith Nominated
Best Writer Julian Fellowes Won
BAFTA Awards Supporting Actor Brendan Coyle Nominated
YouTube Audience Award Downton Abbey Nominated
Monte-Carlo Television Festival Outstanding Actor Hugh Bonneville Nominated
Outstanding Actress Michelle Dockery Nominated
Outstanding Actress Maggie Smith Nominated
Best International Producer Gareth Neame Nominated
Best European Producer Gareth Neame Nominated
RTS Awards Best Drama Series Downton Abbey Nominated
TRIC Awards TV Drama Programme of the Year Downton Abbey Won
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Mini-Series and Specials Downton Abbey Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Miniseries or Movie Downton Abbey Won
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie Elizabeth McGovern Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie Maggie Smith Won
Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special Brian Percival Won
Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special Julian Fellowes Won
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Jill Trevellick Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography For A Miniseries Or Movie David Katznelson Won
Outstanding Art Direction For A Miniseries Or Movie Donal Woods
Charmian Adams
Gina Cromwell
Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Miniseries Or A Movie John Wilson Nominated
Outstanding Costumes For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special Susannah Buxton
Caroline McCal
Won
Outstanding Sound Editing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special Adam Armitage
Alex Sawyer
Nominated
TV Choice Awards Best New Drama Downton Abbey Nominated
2012 National Television Awards Best Drama Downton Abbey Pending
Drama Performance: Male Brendan Coyle Pending
Drama Performance: Male Dan Stevens Pending
Drama Performance: Female Joanne Froggatt Pending
Drama Performance: Female Michelle Dockery Pending

International broadcasts

Over 100 countries have acquired the rights to broadcast Downton Abbey.[40]

  • In the United States, Downton Abbey was broadcast in January 2011 on PBS, as part of the 40th season of Masterpiece.[41] The programme was broadcast in four 90-minute episodes, requiring PBS to alter the beginning and endpoints of each episode with minimal editing.[42]
  • In the Republic of Ireland, independent television channel TV3 aired the first series in January and February 2011.[43] However, ITV1 (UTV region) is commonly available throughout both the Republic and Northern Ireland.
  • In Australia, the first series was broadcast on the Seven Network from 29 May 2011.[44]
  • In Spain, Antena 3 aired the first series in March and April 2011.[45]
  • In Sweden, the first series was aired by SVT on Saturdays at 21.30 from 12 February 2011.[46] Viewing figures were in excess of a million for each episode.[47] SVT began airing the second series on 29 October 2011.
  • In Norway, the first series was aired by NRK on Sundays at 21.15 as double episodes from 2 January 2011. The first episode of series two was aired on Sunday, 30 October 2011 at 21.25, with double epiodes the following three Sundays. The final episode is scheduled to be broadcast on 27 November 2011. [48]
  • In Denmark, the first series was aired by Danmarks Radio on Saturdays at 20.00 from 12 March 2011.[49]
  • In Belgium, één, the Flemish public broadcaster, began airing the first series on on 26 March 2011.[50]
  • In Poland, TVN Style began airing the first series on 16 April 2011.[51]
  • In New Zealand, Prime (New Zealand) began airing the first series on 10 May 2011.[51] Prime began airing the second series on 18 October 2011.
  • In the Netherlands, Ned2 began airing the first series on 25 June 2011[52] and the second series on 5 November 2011.[53]
  • In Israel, Channel 1 began airing the first series on 1 July 2011.[54]
  • In Germany, Sky aired a four part version on 20 and 27 July 2011.[55]
  • In Finland, the first series began airing on YLE on 30 August 2011.[56]
  • In Argentina, Film&Arts began airing the first series on 1 September 2011.[57]
  • In Canada, VisionTV begin airing the programme on 7 September 2011.[58]

STV opt out

STV, which broadcasts ITV productions in Scotland, opted out of showing Downton Abbey, choosing instead to screen a brand-new six-part series of Taggart, following a long practice of opting out of Britain-wide ITV programmes.[59] This led to backlash from Scottish viewers, who were frustrated at not being able to watch the programme. Many viewers with satellite or cable television tuned into other regional stations of the ITV network, for example ITV1 London, with viewing figures showing this is also commonplace for other ITV programmes.[60] The series received its first Britain-wide broadcast when it was shown on ITV3 in February 2011.

STV announced in July 2011 that it will show the first and second series of Downton Abbey, as part of its autumn schedule.[61]

Phyllis Logan, who plays Mrs Hughes, said: "I'm delighted that STV is showing Downton Abbey in Scotland – it means my family and friends in Scotland will be able to watch it at the same time as the rest of the UK. This might push our viewing figures up even higher which can only be good." Iain Glen, who plays Sir Richard Carlisle, added: "I am not party to the original decision as to why STV didn't acquire the original series from ITV, but I am delighted the decision has been reversed and the people of Scotland will be able to see what all the fuss has been about."[62]

Releases

Blu-ray and DVD

Blu-ray/DVD Title # of Disc(s) Year # of Episodes Release dates (UK Only)
Blu-ray DVD
Complete Series One 2 (Blu-ray)
3 (DVD)
2010 7 8 November 2010 8 November 2010
Complete Series Two[63] 3 (Blu-ray)
4 (DVD)
2011 8 7 November 2011 7 November 2011
Complete Series One and Two[64] 5 (Blu-ray)
7 (DVD)
2010–11 15 7 November 2011 7 November 2011
Downton Abbey Christmas Special[65] TBA 2011 1 TBA TBA

Internationally, the U.S. DVD release date was 11 January 2011, in New Zealand it was released on 22 June 2011 and in Australia on 4 August 2011. The release in Australia and New Zealand has an exclusive bonus disc in both the DVD and Blu-ray versions. It contains extras such as cast interviews, geography of Downton: upstairs and downstairs, a day in service and others.

On 16 September 2011, two days before the UK premiere of the second series, it was reported by Amazon.com that the first series of Downton Abbey had become the highest selling DVD Boxset on the online retailer's website of all time, surpassing popular American programmes such as The Sopranos, Friends and The Wire.[66]

Soundtrack

A soundtrack, featuring music from the series and also new songs, was released by Decca in September 2011. Music by John Lunn and Don Black features, with vocals from Mary-Jess Leaverland and Alfie Boe.[67]

Book

A book featuring a behind-the-scenes look at Downton Abbey was released on 15 September 2011. It was written by Jessica Fellowes (the niece of Julian Fellowes) and was published by HarperCollins.[67][68]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "Downton Abbey: How Hollywood is snapping up our bright TV drama stars". The Daily Mirror. 7 November 2010. http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/news/2010/11/07/downton-abbey-how-hollywood-is-snapping-up-our-bright-tv-drama-stars-115875-22697838/. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Downton Abbey enters Guinness Book of Records[dead link] TNT UK Magazine, September 2011
  3. ^ Downton Abbey: ITV confirms third series The Guardian, 3 November 2011
  4. ^ "Highclere Castle". Highclere Castle. http://www.highclerecastle.co.uk/castle/staterooms.html. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  5. ^ David Gritten "Downton Abbey: behind the scenes", Daily Telegraph, 20 September 2010
  6. ^ Ffrench, Andrew (23 April 2010). "Village is the star of the show". Oxford Mail. http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/8118034.Village_is_the_star_of_the_show. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
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  8. ^ 'Downton Abbey' stars tease second series Digital Spy, 23 May 2011
  9. ^ a b Hastings, Chris (20 September 2011). "Housemaid’s tryst with Randy Major: Racy plotline mirrors real life scandal at stately home". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2038680/Downton-Abbey-plotline-mirrors-real-life-scandal-housemaid-trysts-Randy-Major.html. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Downton Abbey's Amy Nuttall: I'm not returning for third series Metro, 15 September 2011
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  25. ^ Downton Abbey – Back in 2011 ITV, July 2011
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  47. ^ "MMS Weekly Ratings Report (in Swedish)". http://mms.se/_dokument/rapporter/vecka/VeTvTitt1106.pdf. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
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  54. ^ "Downton Abbey" (in Hebrew). http://www.iba.org.il/spokesman/index.aspx?classto=DoverInnerYedia&entity_code=743304. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
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  56. ^ "Syysuutta: Downton Abbey". http://tv1.yle.fi/juttuarkisto/downton-abbey/syysuutta-downton-abbey. 
  57. ^ "Series: volver al pasado". 31 August 2011. http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1401983-series-volver-al-pasado. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  58. ^ "Fall 2011 on VisionTV". Channel Canada. 10 August 2011. http://www.channelcanada.com/Article5950.html. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  59. ^ STV's Opting-out Policy Again Comes in for Criticism allmediascotland, 30 September 2010
  60. ^ Viewers opt out of STV on satellite, BBC News, 31 October 2010
  61. ^ STV to show Downton Abbey in Autumn schedule, STV, 21 July 2011
  62. ^ "BBC News – STV decides to show 'Downton Abbey'". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-07-21. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-14230189. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  63. ^ Downton Abbey Series Two DVD Amazon, 2011
  64. ^ Downton Abbey Series One and Two DVD Amazon, 2011
  65. ^ Downton Abbey Christmas Special Amazon, 2011
  66. ^ "Downton Abbey becomes top selling DVD box set of all time". Metro. 16 September 2011. http://www.metro.co.uk/tv/875697-downton-abbey-becomes-top-selling-dvd-box-set-of-all-time. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  67. ^ a b Downton Abbey Series Two Press Pack ITV Press Centre, July 2011
  68. ^ Interview with Jessica Fellowes Edwardian Promenade, 12 September 2011

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