📺 Downton Abbey
Created and co-written by Julian Fellowes
Downton Abbey is a British television series that aired on ITV in the U.K. and on PBS in the U.S.A. for six years beginning in 2010 on ITV and 2011 on PBS. It features the fictional, aristocratic, Crawley family and their servants, as well as many other characters who interact with them over a period from 1912 to 1926. It is set primarily at Downton Abbey, a fictional Yorkshire country estate. There was also a film released in 2019 which covered a visit from the English Royals, King George V and Queen Mary, who were on their way to their Scottish estate of Balmoral. They would often visit different estates during their yearly trips.
The series is incredibly convoluted and detailed when relating many, many story lines and I will leave out the details to avoid confusing readers and boring you with endless descriptions. The series portrays the effects of many significant historic events on the Crawley family and on British social hierarchy in general. Such events include the sinking of the Titanic, the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish Flu Pandemic, the Marconi Scandal (not unlike modern day government “pay for play” scandals), the Irish War of Independence, the Teapot Dome Scandal, the British general election of 1923, Adolph Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in the same year, and in Series Six, the rise of the British working class and the decline of the aristocracy.
Downton Abbey has received many awards and great acclaim, such as a Golden Globe award, several Primetime Emmy Awards (and the most nominations of any series), and recognition by Guinness World Records as the “the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011”. It was the most watched television series on both ITV and PBS.
My wife and I found the detailed story lines to be so engrossing that we have watched the entire series twice. It is easy to become involved in the daily lives of the many interesting characters to the extent that we would eagerly anticipate watching the next episode time after time. The main characters are Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, his wife Cora, the Countess of Grantham, their three daughters, Mary, Edith and Sybil, Robert’s mother, his sister, and a total of 11 other characters who are all listed on imdb.com as part of the Main Cast. The servants lives are at least as interesting as the Crawley family, just as if they are part of the family. There are literally hundreds of other interesting characters to keep one captivated. We found the acting and directing to be superb, as if we KNEW the characters. Sometimes we could predict their behavior, and then sometimes not. What fun!
The film locations are fascinating as well. There are at least ten notable locations shown on a Wikipedia map ranging from Scotland in the north to the very south of England. The exterior shots of Downton Abbey and most of the interior shots were filmed at Highclere Castle in north Hampshire. Notably, for the sponsor of this article, there are at least three locations and many, many scenes set in Bampton, Oxfordshire. Inside and outside, I found the locations to be absolutely beautiful and captivating. After watching the series, I feel like I know much more about a land that I have never seen in person, and it is almost as though I HAVE been there.
There is some controversy regarding the authenticity or realism of some of the aspects of the series. The positive, sympathetic portrayal of the aristocracy has been criticized. The accents of some of the actors have been questioned. Some of the expressions used and specific behavior have been questioned in a historical accuracy context. Others have argued that Downton Abbey was never intended to be a perfectly, historically accurate portrayal of the times, but rather a generally representative portrayal and yes, entertainment. There are always those who will pick apart any subject because that is their nature.
It is interesting to me that many of the scenarios in this wonderful series are something that we can relate to in our present day. There are issues that resemble our lives today and that is part of the charm of Downton Abbey. If you would like a more detailed description of the series, just visit the references shown below - and then rent or stream Downton Abbey, but be careful. It IS addicting….. Enjoy!