There are ridiculous numbers of characters, split across upstairs and downstairs, and ridiculous numbers of subplots. But it is hardly going to be the great ensemble piece of Fellowes' Oscar-winning Gosford Park without the late, great Robert Altman at the helm. Downton's secrets are so obvious they are screaming out from the screen. Didn't anybody notice Lady Edith having a baby? Did the family raising it think the stork brought it? Is Alfred Hitchcock supposed to have named his most famous psychopath after a murderous butler? The linguistic and factual inaccuracies continue (unintentional pun) unabated: characters "get shafted" while driving cars yet to be designed past TV aerials, UPVC conservatories, double-yellow lines, and get home to listen to music that hasn't been composed yet. Fellowes would, though, apparently describe me as "socially insecure" for pointing out that he hasn't learned to Google things properly.
It's supposed to be set in Yorkshire, as characters regularly wander off to Easingwold, Ripon and the Ainsty Hunt, but it isn't filmed anywhere near. Julian Fellowes clearly has bad memories of his schooldays at Ampleforth so won't venture north of Oxford. Apparently he wanted Gosford Park to be filmed at Highclere and wasn't allowed, so he stamped his foot and demanded it was used for Downton instead. But the servants are at least all made to speak with the official television Bad. Generic. Northern. Accent. Which is just as well as otherwise, from the scenery and weather in the background, you'd never guess they were meant to be in Yorkshire at all.
|This is a genuine Yorkshire stately home, |
but ironically it's been rather overused for Evelyn Waugh novels set in Wiltshire
|Newby Hall near Ripon,|
which Tour de France sports commentators claimed was Castle Howard
|Nunnington Hall, near Helmsley. |
Cheeky peacocks and miniature rooms.