|Created by||Julian Fellowes|
|Opening theme||"Did I Make the Most of Loving You?"|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||5 (4 completed)|
|No. of episodes||42 (34 aired) (List of episodes)|
|Cinematography||David Katznelson (series 1)
Gavin Struthers (series 2)
|Running time||Regular episodes: 47–53 minutes
Extended episodes: 64–69 minutes
Christmas specials: 92 minutes
(excluding commercial breaks)
|Original channel||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original run||26 September 2010– present|
Downton Abbey is a British period drama television series created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. It first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 26 September 2010 and on PBS in the United States on 9 January 2011 as part of the Masterpiece Classic anthology. Four series have been made so far; a fifth is planned for 2014.
The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era—with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Such events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in the first series; the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second series; the Interwar period and the formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; and the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth series.
Downton Abbey has received critical acclaim from television critics and won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. It was recognised by Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011. It earned the most nominations of any international television series in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, with twenty-seven in total (after two series). It was the most watched television series on both ITV and PBS, and subsequently became the most successful British costume drama series since the 1981 television serial of Brideshead Revisited. By the third series, it had become one of the most widely watched television drama shows in the world.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Production
- 3 Locations
- 4 Opening theme
- 5 Cast
- 6 Episodes
- 7 Themes
- 8 Reception
- 9 Broadcast
- 10 Releases
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
The series is set in the fictional Downton Abbey, a Yorkshire country house, the seat of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V. Influenced by Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country, the first series opens at the end of the Edwardian era in 1912 with news of the family heir's death aboard the Titanic, spanning the two years before the Great War. The second series covered the years 1916 to 1919, and the 2011 Christmas Special covered the 1919 Christmas period, ending in early 1920. The third series picks up soon afterwards, covering 1920 through the autumn of 1921. The fourth series covers a six-month period between February and August 1922, while the 2013 Christmas special was set in summer 1923.
Gareth Neame of Carnival Films conceived the idea of an Edwardian-era TV drama set in a country house and approached Fellowes, who had won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) for Gosford Park. Although Fellowes was reluctant to work on another project resembling Gosford, within a few weeks he returned to Neame with an outline of the first series. Fellowes writes the scripts, and his wife Emma is an informal story editor.
Highclere Castle in Hampshire is used for exterior shots of Downton Abbey and most of the interior filming. The kitchen, servants' quarters and working areas, and some of the "upstairs" bedrooms were constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios.
The village of Bampton in Oxfordshire is used to film outdoor scenes. Notable locations include St Mary's Church and the library, which served as the entrance to the cottage hospital. The old rectory in Bampton is used for the exterior shots of Isobel Crawley's house, with the interior scenes being filmed at Hall Place near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.
The Downton Abbey of the title and setting, though fictional, is described as lying in the historical County of Yorkshire. The towns of Easingwold, Kirkby Malzeard, Kirkbymoorside, Malton, Middlesbrough, Ripon, Richmond, and Thirsk, each mentioned by characters in the series, lie in present-day North Yorkshire, as does the city of York, while Leeds—similarly mentioned—lies in West Yorkshire; local Yorkshire media speculated the general location of the fictional Downton Abbey to be somewhere in the triangulated area between the towns of Easingwold, Ripon and Thirsk.
Many historical locations and aristocratic mansions have been used to film various scenes:
The fictional Haxby Park, the estate Sir Richard Carlisle intends to buy in Series 2, is part of Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire. Byfleet Manor in Surrey is the location for the Dower House, home to Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, while West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire is used for the interior scenes of Lady Rosamund (Samantha Bond)'s London residence in Eaton Square. A house in Belgrave Square, London, is used for the exterior shots.
Greys Court in Oxfordshire was used as the family's secondary property, into which they proposed moving and calling 'Downton Place' due to financial difficulties in the third series. Also in the third series, Bates' prison scenes were filmed at Lincoln Castle in Lincolnshire.
Horsted Keynes railway station in West Sussex is used as Downton station. The station is part of the heritage Bluebell Railway. St Pancras station in London doubled for King's Cross station in episode one of series 4, in the scene where Lady Edith Crawley meets her lover Michael Gregson.
Parts of series 4 were filmed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham – The Tarred Yarn Store was used in episode one as a workhouse where Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan) visits Mr Grigg (Nicky Henson) and in episode two, streets at The Historic Dockyard Chatham were used for the scenes where Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James) is at the market with James Kent (Ed Speleers) watching her.
Scenes for the 2013 Christmas special were filmed at Royal Holloway, University of London, Goldsmith's College London, West Wittering beach in West Sussex and Berkshire's Basildon Park. Lancaster House in London stood in for Buckingham Palace.
The opening theme to Downton Abbey, titled "Did I Make the Most of Loving You?", was composed by John Lunn, and is performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The piece runs for four minutes and twenty-one seconds (4:21). The theme was released commercially in both the UK on 28 September 2012 and in US on 9 October 2012 by Silva Screen Records. An extended suite version was released on the soundtrack for the show in 19 September 2011 in the UK and later in the US on 13 December 2011. The soundtrack also included the song performed by singer Mary-Jess Leaverland, with lyrics written by Don Black. According to Lunn, the inspiration for the theme to Downton Abbey came from James Brown.