Upstairs, Downstairs again?

Thursday, August 27, 2009 by

ITV has announced the commissioning of Downton Abbey, by Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes.

Echoing Upstairs, Downstairs in concept, here’s the full info about the Gosford Park writer’s new series…

Set in an Edwardian country house in 1912, Downton Abbey will portray the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them.

In the drawing rooms, library and beautiful bedrooms of Downton Abbey, lives the family.  Below stairs are the other residents, the servants, as fiercely jealous of their ranks as anyone above stairs. Some of them are loyal to the family and committed to Downton as a way of life, others are moving through, on the look out for betterment or love or just plain adventure. The difference being they know the family’s secrets, while the family know so few of theirs.

Downton Abbey will be produced for ITV by Carnival Films and pre-production begins in autumn 2009.

Director of Television Peter Fincham and Director of ITV Drama Laura Mackie have ordered seven episodes of the drama about life in the Downton community with Julian Fellowes penning the lion’s share of the scripts and overseeing the series.  The first episode will be 90 minutes duration, while the remaining six episodes of the series will be 60 minute editions of the drama. Julian is best known for Gosford Park, which won a plethora of awards, not least the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2001.  His most recent film work, The Young Victoria, also received critical acclaim.  In addition to his work as a writer, Julian is an actor, director and producer.

Laura Mackie said: “We are delighted to be bringing the work of a high profile film writer like Julian Fellowes to ITV1.  This is a quality series of real scale and ambition that explores the fascinating and complicated relationships, between masters and servants during a brilliantly vivid period of British history.”

Downton Abbey’s writer and creator Julian Fellowes said: “It is no secret that I am fascinated by the extraordinary variety of people that occupied the great country houses.  Where men and women worked alongside each other and lived in close proximity, but were separated in their dreams and aspirations by a distance that makes the moon seem close. Television drama often relies on a structure that will involve characters of different backgrounds, any hospital soap opera or detective series can give you that, but there is no narrative base that can provide members of every level of society, sleeping under a single roof, more believably than a great house before the First War.”


One Response to “Upstairs, Downstairs again?”

  1. annoyingmouse on August 27th, 2009 2:32 pm

    I recently watched Fellowes’ now seemingly almost completely forgotten 1995 version of Little Lord Fauntleroy (which came with the recent blink-and-you’ve-missed-it dvd release of the still brilliant Moondial) and was pleasantly surprised at how good a series it was. I’d never come across it before and, much as I’ve really enjoyed Fellowes’ other work, I wasn’t expecting this to be great but was suitably impressed by the way he managed to write a series that appeared to me to present a reasonably realistic portrayal of the upstairs downstairs life without being patronising to its young audience. It was genuinely like Gosford Park for kids. I sat down to watch one episode with the suspicion that I’d turn it off quickly only to end up watching the whole thing in the one sitting. Lovely stuff. Still, Fellowes would’ve made a shit baddie in Willow.