Downton Abbey

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

“We were a show that flopped”

Now, I have to beg to differ Lady Mary. Downton Abbey is an extremely successful show, pulling in a staggering twelve point eight million viewers tuning in for the series finale, which ended on the Seventh of November.  But, alas, this brilliant piece of television has come to a close, for now. I have to admit it, I, like millions across the world am currently suffering from Downton withdrawal. But, what makes this Period Television Drama so darn addictive?

Well, it could be the fantastic cast, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and Jim Carter are some of the most well-known names. And Maggie Smith is simply stellar as the Dowager Countess of Grantham, quite often stealing an entire scene with one line, a look, or even just her presence elevates the drama to a certain stature.

Or it could be the young actors who are little known to a wider audience. Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens and Joanne Froggatt pave the way for the rest of the cast. In particular, Michelle Dockery’s Lady Mary has been highly praised by many critics, Viv Groskop of The Guardian said: “ …Michelle Dockery… is exempt from all criticism because she is wondrous (fact) and has saved the entire series from near-disaster.” And I have to agree, whilst Lady Mary’s appearance in social situations may be cold and calculating, but in down-beats within the show, such as when her Ladies Maid, Anna is helping her get ready for dinner, the audience sees her true feelings.

Perhaps, the show’s success could be due to the often ridiculous storylines, in series two, the audience were treated to, Spanish Influenza, War, Death, Blackmail are just to name a few. Fellowes is able to take the format of shows such as Eastenders (which have equally ridiculous storylines) and apply them to the upper classes.

Downton Abbey recently picked up no less than four Emmys this year. And was entered in to the Guinness Book of World Records for being ‘the most critically acclaimed show of the year’ in September 2011, becoming the first British show to win the award.

So clearly, the show is brilliant, but how long can they keep this high standard up? ITV shelled out an astounding £8 Million for the Second Series, will they be prepared to keep feeding money in to the show? It seems highly likely that ITV will hold on to the show for as long as possible, if the viewing figures remain high and the standard keeps up then it seems unlikely that the show will be cut.

On the Seventh of November, ITV confirmed that there would be a third series of the show, set in 1920 and this series follows The Crawley family and their servants covering 18 months and during the Armistice. Now, will Matthew and Mary finally get together? Will Mr Bates be freed from Prison? Will Lady Edith find a husband? And as for Sybil will she remain happy with Branson, the chauffeur?

For now, these questions remain unanswered as Mr Fellowes is currently writing the script. But, don’t fear, there is a Christmas Special lined up which Laura Mackie, director of Drama for ITV says:  “Julian has come up with a fantastic story that will give the audience the chance to enjoy the experience of the festive season at Downton Abbey.  We’re delighted to have this as part of our Christmas schedule for December 2011.”

So, will you be tuning in? I know I will, with some sherry and mince pie.

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