There’s nothing like hearing the news that the unsinkable Titanic did, in fact, sink. This news shakes the well-to-do Crawley family who resides in Downton Abbey as well as the myriad of servants who had to iron out the newspaper before it even got to the head of the family.
The cast in this period drama is huge but it works because you end up seeing the dynamics of the upstairs and downstairs as if they were living in completely separate worlds. The loyalty that you observe when it comes to certain servants is either very deep or only visible on the surface. Each person has their own agenda, and dreams, and being in the same physical proximity with those who have conflicting ideas of how things should run turns this miniseries into more of a soap opera than anything else.I heard about it first on Pop Culture Happy Hour and decided to investigate, especially when I knew that it was now on Netflix Instant Watch. This is one of the best miniseries out there, if you happen to fancy pompous English matriarchs and lowly servants playing tricks on each other, which I find infinitely amusing. Maggie Smith plays the aforementioned matriarch who has to confront the idea that a new heir will destroy her dynastic vision. There is season of Downton Abbey coming soon, which I can’t wait for. It comes out this year!
The series is set in the fictional Downton Abbey, stately home of the Earl of Grantham, early in the reign of King George V, during the two years prior to the Great War and commencing with news of the sinking of the Titanic, an event that triggers much of the storyline. It follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants.
The village of Bampton in Oxfordshire was used for filming the outdoor scenes, most notably St Mary’s Church and the village library, which became the entrance to the cottage hospital. Series characters often refer to the North Yorkshire towns of Malton, Easingwold, and Kirby; Ripon and Thirsk have also been mentioned. However, the Downton estate is centred on the fictional village of Downton, a place name in several English counties but not in Yorkshire.
The first series cost an estimated £1 million an hour to film, making it the most expensive British TV show ever produced. It is also the most successful British period drama since Brideshead Revisited, with British ratings exceeding 10 million viewers. Similarily, the series enjoyed successful ratings in the United States, averaging over 6 million viewers per episode.