It’s just a few weeks until we can all return to the Abbey. The recent trailers have revealed that the stakes have been raised by a royal visit, which promises the perfect opportunity for even more glamour amongst the inevitable dramas. As always, though, the strength of the show has been its incredible cast of characters. The TV show wrapped up all the storylines but left plenty of room for new developments. How will Mary cope now that Edith totally outranks her? Will Violet or Isobel have the last word? Will Thomas finally find love? The trailer certainly hints at a handsome fellow for the ever-unlucky footman-turned-head butler. Can’t quite remember who’s who and how they all fit together? Mrs Patmore is here to help.
Yes, we know they’re not real people, however much we wish they were. It’s actually the marvellous Lesley Nicol who gives us the lowdown on the returning Crawley family and their staff.
We start at the top with Lord and Lady Grantham, played by Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern.
The commentary tells us the earl is “the head of the Downton estate which he’s preparing hand over to his eldest daughter, Lady Mary Talbot.” So it appears that he still hasn’t quite relinquished control to his modernising daughter. In fact, the main trailer hints that Michelle Dochery’s Mary is considering whether the old system of estates and hierarchy has any place in the Twentieth Century.
Of course, she also finds time to spar with younger sister Edith, Laura Carmichael, who is still trying to find her place in the world and exclaims “I just want to own my own life.” It’s obviously tough being Marchioness of a vast estate.
No round-up would be complete without Maggie Smith’s sublime Dowager Countess Violet.
Although she might easily be mistaken for a reactionary old-fashioned force, the commentary reminds us “Her constant scheming and clever commentary drive Downton forward.” All done, of course, with razor-sharp wit. When her son asks her to pray for them all she shoots back: ‘I’ll put in a word.”
Bridging the upstairs and downstairs is former chauffeur Tom Branson, the widower of Sybil Crawley, who can be heard wryly commenting “I know you find my opinions highly entertaining.” The main railer also hints there might be a new romance on the horizon for him.
Which also goes for Head Butler Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier), who we all know is the “former rebellious footman who has grown into a trustworthy member of the Downton staff.”
The unofficial lord and lady downstairs were always “The fearless Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan), who keeps Downton spotless and orderly assuring the wellbeing of her employers and staff and eventually married her counterpart Mr Carston (Jim Carter), although he did recently retire.”
Naturally, Carson won’t stay away when a royal visit requires his expertise.
The commentary also reminds us of another happily (finally) married couple: “John Bates is Lord Grantham’s personal valet and is married to Head Housemaid Anna Smith who in addition to her duties as maid is also Lady Marty’s favourite confidant and closest friend.”
The strength of the show has always been the bonds which bridge the class divide and a new clip shows Anna telling Mary: “I hope we’re good friends to each other, My Lady.”
Which brings us back round to Head Cook Mrs Patmore who “often stirs the pot with colourful commentary.”
The pot is bubbling merrily away and fans can’t wait until the full feast is served later this month.
DOWNTON ABBEY IS OUT IN UK CINEMAS ON SEPTEMBER 13