When a TV show takes the audience back in time and manages to get the feel and atmosphere right, it tends to succeed. That’s exactly what has happened with the immensely popular Downtown Abbey series. One of the best aspects about the show is how it manages to seamlessly intertwine historic facts into the timeline, showing the impact of such events on the characters. A few of these events especially stand out.
Titanic Sinks with the Crawley Family Heirs
The heart wrenching tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic was neatly stitched into the first episode of the very first season of Downtown Abbey and the impact it left beautifully mirrored the devastation and sorrow that was caused as a result of the event. With Lord Grantham’s heir James and his son Patrick losing their lives with hundreds of passengers on the Titanic, the entire family faced an extremely sorrowful time.
World War I Leaves its Lasting Mark
When Season 2 opened with Mathew Crawley in Northern France fighting the Battle of the Somme, viewers knew that the series would take on a darker tone. Indeed, the harsh realities of World War I were amply highlighted. The shock of the war itself, the disbelief when Britain could not subdue her enemies after a few weeks of battle and the slowly dawning comprehension that the war would not end any time soon and that casualties would be high were depicted beautifully on the show.
Spanish Flu Outbreak Debilitates the Crawleys
History’s deadliest flu pandemic got its share of the spotlight on Downtown Abbey too. The Spanish Flu hit right after the war, giving viewers little time to recover from that shock before being hit by the next. But history attests to the fact that this was, in fact, the series of events, because it was the soldiers who transmitted the disease so far and wide, within a short span of time.
Many more historic incidents have been integrated into the storyline, leaving audiences wondering where reality stops and fiction begins. The mark of a great writer is evident in the Downtown Abbey series and that is perhaps why viewers love the series quite so much.
Being featured in a world famous drama series is not a distinction that many buildings achieve, but the stately Highclere Castle has done it. This is the home shown in Downtown Abbey, the drama series about pre- Edwardian British aristocrats. In fact, one of the residents of this castle, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon is the inspiration behind one of the most popular characters of this show – Lady Cora.
1000-acre Castle Belonging to the Carnarvons
Almost all episodes of the show have been filmed on the grounds of this imposing castle located in West Berkshire. The 1000-acre sprawling castle belongs to the Carnarvon family since 1679. With 50 bedrooms, there is sure to have been enough place for guests here no matter how big the party got!
Before Highclere came into being in its present day avatar, a medieval palace belonging to the Bishop of Winchester occupied this space. Right about the time when Queen Victoria took charge of England’s fortunes, the castle was renovated by Sir Charles Barry. It was transformed into a dazzling example of Jacobethan architecture and design intermingled with Italian design elements. When Benjamin Disraeli got his first glimpse at Highclere, he is believed to have exclaimed, “How scenical!”
The King Tut Connection at Highclere
In a very interesting twist, there is actually a connection between the residents of Highclere and King Tut’s spectacular treasures. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was in fact known as the discoverer of the Egyptian boy king’s tomb, along with Howard Carter. Some believe that Tut’s curse led to the Earl’s death in Cairo, when a mosquito bite caused a fatal infection! When he died, the lights in Cairo went off and the Earl’s dog died at Highclere – peculiar coincidences that add to the mystery of the story.
There have been rumors circulating the internet with the possibility of the U.S. getting the same time slot as the UK. They were able to get this confirmation with Julian Fellowes. When PBS commented, it seemed more like a fantasy. Although it would be nice, there would be too much competition for the time slots.
One of the biggest pushes to get the U.S. to have the same viewing time as the UK is due to the massive amount of “Spoilers” flying around the internet while the episodes haven’t aired in the U.S. I won’t lie, I’m not helping the situation, but for my UK followers, it’s imperative that I tell them what is going on and what they should be looking for the upcoming episodes.
Although talks have been circulating about this possible move, it seems unlikely. Currently, the U.S. still set to aire Downton Abbey on January 2015. I will keep you updated to the state of Downton Abbey as I hear more about this possibility.