Returning to Downton Abbey

Back in 2011 I was flipping through an issue of Entertainment Weekly when I came across a review for a brand new show called Downton Abbey. Since I’m a sucker for a good period piece I decided to check it out and, like most of America, was instantly hooked. It became must see TV for me…until they killed off Lady Sybil. She was one of my favorite characters! I was so bummed I stopped watching and left the world of Downton behind. Then came the movie and I couldn’t help but be curious so when I was invited to a special screening and interview with cast members I immediately agreed.

If you’re unfamiliar with Downton Abbey it’s an upstairs downstairs story about the world of the wealthy Crawley family and their many servants. Starting in the Edwardian era and continuing through the Jazz Age it’s a sumptuous glimpse into the life of the British aristocracy as well as those who serve them. The film continues the story in the year 1927 when the entire estate is buzzing over a proposed visit from King George and Queen Mary. Everyone from the Dowager Countess to Daisy the assistant cook is involved and with so many parties affected can the visit be a success?

Sophie McShera stars as Daisy Mason and Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

Since I had been away from the series for so long I wondered if I would still enjoy the film. The answer is a resounding yes. I absolutely loved it. From the first chords of the familiar score I was fully immersed in the world of Downton and it felt like I had never left.

Jim Carter stars as Charles Carson in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features

The beautiful scenery, sets and costumes are on full display on the big screen and are as enviable as always. The actors seamlessly return to their roles and our beloved characters are just as sweet and sassy as they were on the show. There are a few new characters and they fit perfectly into the story line soon becoming old friends (and enemies). And the story line is fun and frothy with just a little bit of drama to keep us guessing. Downton Abbey is pure escapist fun and I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in its world for a couple of hours.

Dame Maggie Smith stars as The Dowager Countess of Grantham and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Talbot in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

After the screening we were lucky to have a visit from three stars of the film Allen Leech, Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville.

They may not be the people they play on screen but they’re just as lovely in person. When asked what it was like to return to world of Downton Hugh Bonneville reflected on the cast’s first table read and noted, “…I do remember looking around the table…And basically having sort of a wry grin on my face. Sort of I can’t believe that we’re here again. ” Elizabeth McGovern added, “it’s a luxury because it doesn’t happen very often that you get a chance to revisit a character that has just settled in your bones for years without you even thinking about it” while Allen Leech explained, “…it was a really happy discovery for me that it didn’t take a huge amount to get back to being Tom Branson at all.”

Allen Leech stars as Tom Branson in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features

I completely agree. Of course, I really wanted to know if there would be a sequel. Luckily, the cast was asked just that and Hugh Bonneville assured us, “Of course there could be, because let’s not forget that the central character is the house. And the house is still standing and will be standing in another 100 years. So absolutely.” Now, that’s music to my ears.

Downtown Abbey is now playing in theatres everywhere.

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