Downton abbey streaming season 1

Downton abbey streaming season 1 DEFAULT

Is 'Downton Abbey' on Netflix? — How to watch 'Downton Abbey'

Is Downton Abbey on Netflix? Where can you stream the beloved period drama? Don't worry, we've got all the answers!

The costume drama sensation first aired on ITV in 2010. Set on the fictional Downton estate in Yorkshire in the early 20th century, the show depicted the lives of the well-to-do Crawley family and their live-in servants.

Downton Abbey was highly acclaimed during its run. It won a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy, was the most-watched show on ITV, and became one of the most successful British costume dramas since 1981's Brideshead Revisited. 

After the show came to an end, the story continued in the Downton Abbey movie in 2019. The long-awaited sequel, Downton Abbey: A New Era is finally on its way in March next year.

If you're planning a rewatch or want to sit down and binge the whole show from the beginning, you might be wondering whether Downton Abbey is on Netflix. We've got the answer!

Is Downton Abbey on Netflix?

Yes! Downton Abbey wasn't available on Netflix for a while as it cropped up on several other streamers, but the entire series has returned to the platform in both the US and the UK. 

If you're wondering whether your favorite show is on Netflix, check out some of our other viewing guides below:

How to watch Downton Abbey 

Downton Abbey has reappeared on Netflix in the UK and the US, but the series is also available on Amazon Prime, Peacock (US only) and BritBox!

How to watch Downton Abbey on BritBox

With such a huge range of shows on BritBox, it's no surprise that you can find Downton Abbey on ITV and the BBC's streaming service. 

Downton was one of ITV's must-watch shows when it was initially airing, so it makes perfect sense to get pride of place on the British streamer.

For just £5.99 / $6.99 a month, you can get a BritBox subscription. This lets you stream a huge range of classic and modern British TV including classic Doctor Who, Line of Duty, Bancroft, Death in Paradise and so much more! For more details on subscriptions, check out our breakdown of how much BritBox costs.

How to watch Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is another great option for watching Downton Abbey. After all, there's a good chance most of us have a subscription already!

Viewers in the US and the UK can stream all six seasons of Downton on Amazon. An Amazon Prime subscription is either $12.99/ £7.99 a month or $119/ £79. for an annual subscription.

How to watch Downton Abbey on Peacock 

Peacock is NBC’s dedicated streaming service that launched last year. There are currently three subscription plans available for Peacock, but luckily you can watch Downton Abbey without paying for either of Peacock’s Premium Plans! 

If you’d prefer to remove ads, you’ll need to sign up for a Peacock Premium Plus subscription. Peacock Premium Plus costs $9.99 a month, but gets you access to all of the content on Peacock including new shows like the Punky Brewster reboot and other Peacock originals alongside classic shows like The Office, all without ads.

Can you buy Downton Abbey?

If you would prefer to own the hit period drama series, you can still purchase all six seasons of Downton Abbey on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

If you prefer to buy physical media, you can also buy the Downton Abbey box set. 


How to watch Downton Abbey online: stream every episode from anywhere

TV phenomenon Downton Abbey spanned six seasons, numerous specials, and a 2019 movie: enchanting audiences worldwide with its sumptuous re-creation of early 20th century England and the interpersonal affairs of the aristocratic Crawley family and their household staff. It’s well-crafted comfort television, and you can watch Downton Abbey online wherever you’re streaming from.

Downton Abbey Cheat Sheet

Downton Abbey first graced screens in 2010. Attracting a devoted following, it ran for six seasons before concluding in early 2016. A film followed three years later, reuniting fans with the Crawley family where the TV series had left off. 

Created and co-written by Julian Fellowes, the series focused on the Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey between the years 1912 and 1926, with each season depicting momentous historical events and their repercussions for the Crawley Household: including the outbreak of World War 1, the Spanish Influenza pandemic, and the Irish War of Independence.

Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern head up the cast as the Earl and Countess of Grantham respectively, who, only having three daughters, are desperate for a male heir to inherit Downton. Distant cousin Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) becomes next in line to the estate, developing a tentative romantic relationship with the Earl’s daughter Mary (Michelle Dockery), while Maggie Smith delights as the haughty Dowager Countess – always poised with a witty putdown or a withering look. An extensive roster of domestic staff keeps Downton’s home fires burning, which includes Lady’s maid Miss O’Brien, footman Thomas Barrow, new valet Mr Bates, and the Earl’s butler Carson.

So, Anglophiles assemble for one of the most critically acclaimed English-language TV shows of the 21st century. Brew that tea and butter those scones as we detail how to watch Downton Abbey online from wherever you are in the world.

If you find yourself outside your normal country of residence and try to access your usual streaming service, the chances are geo-blocking restrictions will prevent that - leaving you unable to watch Downton Abbey online.

Luckily, the solution is simple. Downloading the best VPN will allow you to watch Downton Abbey online no matter where you are. This invaluable bit of software alters your IP address so that you can watch all your favorite shows live or on demand, just as if you were back at home lounging on the sofa. 

There are hundreds of VPNs to choose from, but our favorite is ExpressVPN. As well as being quick, hassle-free, and simple to install, it's also compatible with a whole host of tech – Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Xbox, PlayStation, iOS and Android software, to name only a few.

 Plus, ExpressVPN's flexible 30-day money back guarantee is hard to argue with. Even better, you can purchase an annual plan for a 49% discount and 3 months extra FREE – a brilliant offer for an ingenious piece of kit.

Once installed, simply select the location of your home country and click connect. You should then be able to watch Downton Abbey online no matter where you’re located.View Deal

 How to watch Downton Abbey online in the US for FREE

You won’t need your footman or butler to help you stream Downton Abbey as Amazon Prime Video have made it so easy. All 52 episodes are available to stream as part of its 30-day free trial. Avid fans should be able to devour the series in no time, but if not, you’ll pay $12.99 for access each month (or $119 annually). It’s a good deal, as Prime has a vast library of films and TV shows and great perks like next-day delivery.

There’s also the option to watch the series via PBS online, although you can only get access by purchasing the Thirteen Passport for a minimum donation of $5. This payment will recur each month unless you notify them of your wish to cancel.

If you’d rather download Downton Abbey for repeat viewings, then you can buy the entire series from Amazon, Fandango Now, Vudu and Apple iTunes. Episodes are $1.99 on Fandango Now, with seasons ranging from $10 to $14. You can pay more for HDX quality on Vudu, while Abbey afficionados who’d like to buy all six seasons can do so through Apple iTunes for $84.99 total. 

How to watch Downton Abbey for free online in the UK

Over in the UK, spiritual home of the Downton Abbey estate, Brits have a few options by which to stream the series. Amazon Prime Video is a great option with its generous 30-day free trial, but after this the monthly cost is £7.99 a month or £79 annually.

Alternatively, BritBox – an ad-free platform dedicated to the best in British television – offers their own 30-day trial, whose monthly fee is a paltry £5.99 thereafter. New subscribers to Now TV can select the Entertainment Pass and enjoy 7-days of Downton at no charge. Once the trial has elapsed, however, it’s £8.99 a month, but worth it for their choice selection of TV shows e.g. Westworld, Parks and Recreation, Boardwalk Empire, etc.

If you’re looking to buy Downton Abbey outright, then all seasons are available on Apple iTunes, from £7 for Season 1 to £18.99 at most. Over on Sky Store all seasons are £11.99 each, and in delectable HD too.

Englishmen (or women) in New York (or wherever), note that if you can’t access your UK-based streaming service, then a VPN will enable you to watch Downton Abbey online while away from home. 

How to watch Downton Abbey online in Canada for free

Again, Amazon Prime Video is disseminating the Crawley family saga. While most of Canada are entitled to a month free trial, Québécois residents get two for the price of one: paying the monthly fee of CDN$7.99 for two months access. By extension, French-speaking residents might want to stream Downton Abbey through the iciTouTV service.

Want to own the show? You can digitally download all 6 seasons from Apple iTunes, with prices ranging between CDN$14.99 and CDN$19.99.

If you’ve found yourself out of the country – unlikely right now but not impossible – then remember that ExpressVPN will allow you to watch Downton Abbey from your usual streaming service. 

How to watch Downton Abbey online for free in Australia

Amazon Prime Video is the only company streaming Downton Abbey Down Under. You can view this British drama as part of its 30-day free trial, after which you’ll charged A$6.99 a month. You can cancel your subscription at any time, too.

Should you require the show’s household romances and rivalries on tap, then all 6 seasons are available to buy: from A$17.99 to A$22.49 through Google Play, or from A$9.99 to A$19.99 via Apple iTunes

How to watch Downton Abbey the film online from anywhere

If the conclusion of the series left you bereaved, then the recent movie will have proved a welcome balm. Released in the US on September 20 2019, the film reunited us with the Crawley family a few years after the events of Season 6. It’s 1927 and King George V and his wife Mary descend on Downton Abbey during a tour of Yorkshire. The household draws together for this momentous event: coming to blows with royal aides, foiling an assassination attempt, and falling in love.

Read below to see where to watch the Downton Abbey movie online, depending on your location:

USAHBO Go with a cable subscription; HBO Now or Amazon Prime Video

UK – There are no streaming options, but you can purchase the film from Amazon Video, Chili, or Apple iTunes.

AustraliaFoxtel Now or Amazon Prime Video, both of which offer free trials.

CanadaCrave. Trial Crave with the Movies + HBO add-on for 30-days free, which will let you view the Downton Abbey movie and more. Thereafter this subscription costs CDN$19.98 a month (plus tax). 

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Here's Where to Stream Downton Abbey

The lives and loves of Downton Abbey's Crawley family and their staff are as complicated as they are juicy. Whether you're looking to revisit the show or watch it for the first time, there's plenty to enjoy in this period drama, which aired on PBS in the U.S. from 2011-2016 and on ITV in the U.K. from 2010-2015. The series also led to a 2019 feature film.

So where can you stream Downton Abbey? If you were all set to kick back and binge the series on Netflix, you may be disappointed to find out that the streaming juggernaut does not, in fact, have the rights to Downton Abbey. Never fear, though! There are other ways to revisit Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and her English exploits.

Watch Downton Abbey on Peacock

All six seasons of Downton Abbey are now available to stream on Peacock, NBCUniversal's new streaming platform. Even better news: You can watch the show for free! The series is available to watch on Peacock's free ad-supported tier. The platform also has an ad-free premium option, which features more available programming, at $9.99/month.

Watch Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime

All six seasons of Downton Abbey are currently available to stream on Amazon Prime. You can sign up here for a membership, which comes with a monthly fee of $8.99 a month (or $10.99 a month for all Prime services), which allows you to stream the whole series.

Laura Carmichael Says Downton Abbey Movie Has 'Upped the Ante'

If you don't have an Amazon Prime account, you can still purchase episodes and seasons via Amazon. The cost per episode ranges from $2.99 to $3.99, while entire seasons are listed between $14.99 and $19.99.

Downton Abbey Downstairs: The Real-life Partners Revealed - ⭐OSSA

All 52 episodes of Downton Abbey are currently available to watch on Amazon Prime in the US.

That means Amazon Prime members can catch up on the original full-length UK versions of all six seasons of the hit period drama series for free.

And if you’ve not already got Amazon Prime, don’t worry…

You can still enjoy an epic Downton Abbey rewatch at no cost by signing up for a free 30-day trial here!

The Downton Abbey movie is out now on DVD and a second film is set to begin production next year.

Amazon Prime lets you instantly watch thousands of movies and TV episodes, borrow Kindle books, and get unlimited free two-day shipping on your Amazon purchases with no minimum order size.

Sign up for your free 30-day trial here!

Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection DVD box set is available on Amazon.


Streaming 1 season abbey downton

The long-rumored Downton Abbey movie sequel is officially happening, but American fans of the period drama still have a few more months until they can see the Crawley family return to the big screen.

All the better reason to catch up on your favorite episodes between now and Christmas. Here's how to stream the series online:

Sign up for PBS Passport.

All six seasons of Downton Abbey are available on PBS's streaming platform, Passport. Passport, which can be used on the computer as well as smartphones and through TV applications like Roku, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV, is an added benefit for donors to PBS. Each individual station sets the requirements for membership, but according to the national organization, generally speaking, "the PBS Passport member benefit requires a station donation of at least $60 a year, or $5 Sustainer/Ongoing-monthly gifts."

Sign Up.

Don't want to sign up for Passport? Check your local PBS station's programming schedule. Every so often they'll run marathons of the show. That's when you'll want to fill your DVR with Crawley family drama.

Use Amazon Prime.

All six seasons of Downton Abbey are also available to stream on Amazon Prime. If you already have a Prime subscription, just head over to the show's page, and press play. If you haven't signed up for Amazon's membership service, they offer a free, 30-day trial, which is plenty of time to at least start watching the series. Or, Prime costs $12.99 a month, and gives you access to not only Downton Abbey, but tons of other programs such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and A Very English Scandal.

Plus, you'll get free, two-day shipping on select Amazon orders.

Watch Now.

Amazon also sells DVD box sets of the full series. If you'd like to go that route, shop those below:

Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection




Is Downton Abbey on Netflix?

Yes! The series has finally returned to the streaming giant, and all six seasons are included in your subscription.

Watch Now.

What about the first movie?

The first Downton film is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime, or to stream on HBO Max.

Watch Now.

Caroline HallemannDigital News DirectorAs the digital news director for Town & Country, Caroline Hallemann covers everything from the British royal family to the latest episodes of Outlander, Killing Eve, and The Crown.

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The First 10 Minutes of Downton Abbey - Season 1

Downton Abbey

British historical drama television series

This article is about the TV series. For the 2019 film, see Downton Abbey (film). For the 2022 film, see Downton Abbey: A New Era.

Downton Abbey is a British historical drama television series set in the early 20th century, created and co-written by Julian Fellowes. The series first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom on 26 September 2010, and in the United States on PBS, which supported production of the series as part of its Masterpiece Classic anthology, on 9 January 2011.

The series, set in the fictional Yorkshirecountry estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1926, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the post-Edwardian era—the great events of the time having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the 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 Irish War of Independence leading to the formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth series; the British general election of 1923 and the Beer Hall Putsch in the fifth series. The sixth and final series introduces the rise of the working class during the interwar period and hints at the eventual decline of the British aristocracy.

Downton Abbey has received 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 the first two series).[citation needed] 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.[1]

On 26 March 2015, Carnival Films and ITV announced that the sixth series would be the last. It aired on ITV between 20 September 2015 and 8 November 2015. The final episode, serving as the annual Christmas special, was broadcast on 25 December 2015. A film adaptation, serving as a continuation of the series, was confirmed on 13 July 2018 and subsequently released in the United Kingdom on 13 September 2019, and in the United States on 20 September 2019.

Plot overview[edit]

Main article: List of Downton Abbey episodes

Series 1: 2010[edit]

Main article: Downton Abbey (series 1)

The first series, comprising seven episodes, explores the lives of the fictional Crawley family, the hereditary Earls of Grantham, and their domestic servants. The storyline centres on the fee tail or "entail" governing the titled elite, which endows title and estate exclusively to male heirs. As part of the backstory, the main character, Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, had resolved his father's past financial difficulties by marrying Cora Levinson, an American heiress. Her considerable dowry is now contractually incorporated into the commital entail in perpetuity; however, Robert and Cora have three daughters and no son.

As the eldest daughter, Lady Mary Crawley had agreed to marry her second cousin Patrick, the son of the then-heir presumptive James Crawley. The series begins the day after the sinking of the RMS Titanic on 14/15 April 1912. The first episode starts as news reaches Downton Abbey that both James and Patrick have perished in the sinking of the ocean liner. Soon it is discovered that a more distant male cousin, solicitor Matthew Crawley, the son of an upper-middle-class doctor, has become the next heir presumptive. The story initially centres on the relationship between Lady Mary and Matthew, who resists embracing an aristocratic lifestyle, while Lady Mary resists her own attraction to the handsome new heir presumptive.

Of several subplots, one involves John Bates, Lord Grantham's new valet and former Boer Warbatman, and Thomas Barrow, an ambitious young footman, who resents Bates for taking over the position he had desired. Bates and Thomas remain at odds as Barrow works to sabotage Bates' every move. After learning Bates had recently been released from prison, Thomas and Miss O'Brien (Lady Grantham's Lady's maid) begin a relentless pursuit that nearly ruins the Crawley family in scandal. Barrow – a homosexual man in late Edwardian England – and O'Brien create havoc for most of the staff and family. When Barrow is caught stealing, he hands in his notice to join the Royal Army Medical Corps. Matthew eventually does propose to Lady Mary, but she puts him off when Lady Grantham becomes pregnant, understanding that Matthew would no longer be heir if the baby is a boy. Cora loses the baby after O'Brien, believing she is soon to be fired, retaliates by leaving a bar of soap on the floor next to the bathtub, causing Cora to slip while getting out of the tub, and the fall resulting in a miscarriage. Although Lady Mary intends to accept Matthew, Matthew believes her reticence is due to the earlier uncertainty of his heirship and emotionally rescinds his proposal, leaving Lady Mary devastated. The series ends just after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.

Series 2: 2011[edit]

Main article: Downton Abbey (series 2)

The second series comprises eight episodes and runs from the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. During the war, Downton Abbey is temporarily converted into an officers' convalescent hospital.

Matthew, having left Downton, is now a British Army officer and has become engaged. His fiancée is Lavinia Swire, the niece of a Liberal minister. William Mason, the second footman, is drafted, even after attempts by the Dowager Countess of Grantham to save him from conscription. William is taken under Matthew's protection as his personal orderly. Both are injured in a bomb blast. William dies from his wounds, but only after a deathbed marriage to Daisy, the kitchen maid. While Daisy does not believe she loves William, she marries him in last days as his dying wish. It is not until a brief encounter with the Dowager Countess that she begins to realise that her love was real, but was unable to admit it herself at the time.

Mary, while acknowledging her feelings for Matthew, becomes engaged to Sir Richard Carlisle, a powerful and ruthless newspaper mogul. Their relationship is rocky, but Mary feels bound to Carlisle after he agrees to kill a story regarding her past scandalous indiscretion. Bates's wife, Vera, repeatedly causes trouble for John and Anna, who is now his fiancée, and threatens to expose Mary's indiscretion. When Mrs Bates mysteriously commits suicide with an arsenic pie, leaving no note, Bates is arrested on suspicion of her murder. Matthew and Mary realise they are still in love, but Matthew remains staunchly committed to Lavinia in order to keep his word and promise to marry her regardless of his own spinal injury from the blast. Unknown to them both, Lavinia, ill with Spanish flu, sees and overhears Matthew and Mary admit their love for one another while dancing to a song playing on the phonograph gifted as a wedding present to Matthew and Lavinia.

The Spanish influenza epidemic hits Downton Abbey further with Cora, taken seriously ill, as well as Carson, the butler. During the outbreak, Thomas attempts to make up for his inability to find other employment after the war by making himself as useful as possible and is made Lord Grantham's valet after Bates is arrested. Lavinia dies abruptly, which causes great guilt to both Matthew and Mary. Bates is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death but the sentence is commuted to life in prison. After a talk with Robert, Mary realises that she must break off her engagement to Carlisle; a fight breaks out, but in the end Carlisle goes quietly and is never heard from again. The annual Servants' Ball is held at Downton, and Mary and Matthew finally find their way to a marriage proposal on a snowy evening outside the Abbey.

Lady Sybil, the youngest Crawley daughter, beginning to find her aristocratic life stifling, falls in love with Tom Branson, the new chauffeur of Irish descent with strong socialist leanings. She is talked out of elopement by her sisters and eventually receives Lord Grantham's reluctant blessing.

Ethel Parks, a new housemaid, is seduced by an injured officer, Major Bryant. Mrs Hughes, the housekeeper, finds them together in bed and dismisses Ethel, but takes pity on her and helps her when Ethel tells her she is pregnant. She has a baby boy and names him Charlie after his father, but Major Bryant refuses to acknowledge his paternity.

Series 3: 2012[edit]

Main article: Downton Abbey (series 3)

Allen Leechplays Tom Branson, the chauffeur who marries into the Grantham family.

In episode one of the third series, covering 1920 to 1921, preparations are underway for Mary and Matthew's wedding. Tom and Sybil Branson arrive from Ireland, where they now live, to attend the wedding. Also arriving to attend the wedding of her granddaughter is Cora's mother, Martha Levinson, from America. Robert (Lord Grantham) learns that the bulk of the family's fortune (including Cora's dowry) has been lost due to his well-intentioned, but bad investment in the Grand Trunk Railway. In the meantime, Edith has fallen hard for Sir Anthony Strallen, whom Robert discourages from marrying Edith due to his age and infirm condition. At Edith's insistence, Robert gives in and welcomes Sir Anthony, but even though he loves her, the latter cannot accept the fact that the Grantham family is not happy with the match, and at the altar announces that he cannot go through with the wedding, devastating Edith. Strallen exits the church quickly and is never heard from again.

Meanwhile, Bates's cellmate tries to plant drugs in his bedding, but Bates is informed by a fellow prisoner allowing him time to find the hidden drug package before a search and hide it. Back at Downton, Mrs Hughes finds out she may have breast cancer, which only some of the household hear about, causing deep concern, but the tumour turns out to be benign. Tom Branson and Lady Sybil, now pregnant, return to Downton after Tom is implicated in the burning of an Irish aristocrat's house. After Matthew's reluctance to accept an inheritance from Lavinia's recently deceased father and then Robert's reluctance to accept that inheritance as a gift, Matthew and Robert reach a compromise in which Matthew accepts that the inheritance will be used as an investment in the estate, giving Matthew an equal say in how it is run. However, as time goes on Robert repeatedly resists Matthew and Tom's efforts to modernize the running of the estate to make it profitable.

Tragedy strikes when Sybil dies from eclampsia shortly after giving birth. Tom, devastated, names his daughter Sybil after his late wife. Bates is released from prison after Anna uncovers evidence clearing him of his wife's murder. Tom becomes the new land agent at the suggestion of Violet, the Dowager Countess. Barrow and O'Brien have a falling out, after which O'Brien leads Barrow to believe that Jimmy, the new footman, is sexually attracted to him. Barrow enters Jimmy's room and kisses him while he is sleeping, which wakes him up shocked, confused, and very angry. In the end, Lord Grantham defuses the situation. The family, except Branson, visits Violet's niece Susan, her husband "Shrimpie", the Marquess of Flintshire; and their daughter Rose, in Scotland, accompanied by Matthew and a very pregnant Mary. The Marquess confides to Robert that his estate is bankrupt and will be sold, making Robert recognise that Downton has been saved through Matthew and Tom's efforts to modernise. At Downton, Edna Braithwaite, the new maid, enters Tom's room and kisses him, to which he asks her to leave, and she is eventually fired. Mary returns to Downton with Anna and gives birth to the new heir, but Matthew dies in a car crash while driving home from the hospital after seeing his newborn son.

Series 4: 2013[edit]

Main article: Downton Abbey (series 4)

In series four, covering 1922 to 1923, Cora's lady's maid O'Brien leaves to serve Lady Flintshire in British India. Cora hires Edna Braithwaite, who had previously been fired for her interest in Tom. Eventually the situation blows up, and Edna is replaced by Phyllis Baxter.

Lady Mary deeply mourns Matthew's death. Matthew's newly-found will states Mary is to be his sole heir and thus gives her management over his share of the estate until their son, George, comes of age. With Tom's encouragement, Mary assumes a more active role in running Downton. Two new suitors—Lord Gillingham and Charles Blake—arrive at Downton, though Mary, still grieving, is not interested. Middle daughter Lady Edith, who has begun writing a weekly newspaper column, and Michael Gregson, her editor, fall in love. Due to British law, he is unable to divorce his wife, who is mentally ill and in an asylum. Gregson travels to Germany to seek citizenship there, enabling him to divorce, but is killed by Hitler's Brownshirts during riots. Edith is left pregnant and decides to have an illegal abortion, but changes her mind at the last minute. With the help from her paternal aunt, Lady Rosamund, Edith secretly gives birth to a daughter while abroad, and places the baby with adoptive parents in Switzerland, but reclaims her after arranging a new adoptive family on the estate. Mr and Mrs Drewe of Yew Tree Farm take the baby in and raise her as their own.

Anna is raped by Lord Gillingham's valet, Mr Green, which Mr Bates later discovers. Subsequently, Mr Green is killed in a London street accident. A local school teacher, Sarah Bunting, and Tom begin a friendship, though Robert (Lord Grantham) despises her due to her vocal anti-aristocracy views. On the Christmas special, Sampson, a card sharp, steals a letter written by Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, to his mistress, Rose's friend Freda Ward, which, if made public, would create a scandal; the entire Crawley family connives to retrieve it, though it is Bates who extracts the letter from Sampson's overcoat, and it is returned to Mrs Ward.

Series 5: 2014[edit]

Main article: Downton Abbey (series 5)

In series five, covering the year 1924, a Russian exile, Prince Kuragin, wishes to renew his past affections for the Dowager Countess (Violet). Violet instead locates his wife in British Hong Kong and reunites the Prince and his estranged wife. Scotland Yard and the local police investigate Green's death. Violet learns that Marigold is Edith's daughter. Meanwhile, Mrs Drewe, not knowing Marigold's true parentage, resents Edith's constant visits. To increase his chances with Mary, Charles Blake plots to reunite Gillingham and his ex-fiancée, Mabel. After Edith inherits Michael Gregson's publishing company, she removes Marigold from the Drewes and relocates to London. Simon Bricker, an art expert interested in one of Downton's paintings, shows his true intentions toward Cora and is thrown out by Robert, causing a temporary rift between the couple.

Mrs Patmore's decision to invest her inheritance in real estate inspires Mr Carson, Downton's butler, to do likewise. He suggests that head housekeeper Mrs Hughes invest with him; she confesses she has no money due to supporting a mentally incapacitated sister. The Crawleys' cousin, Lady Rose, daughter of Lord and Lady Flintshire, becomes engaged to Atticus Aldridge, son of Lord and Lady Sinderby. Lord Sinderby strongly objects to Atticus's marrying outside the Jewish faith. Lord Merton proposes to Isobel Crawley (Matthew's mother). She accepts, but later ends the engagement due to Lord Merton's sons' disparaging comments over her status as a commoner. Lady Flintshire employs underhanded schemes to derail Rose and Atticus's engagement, including announcing to everyone at the wedding that she and her husband are divorcing, intending to cause a scandal to stop Rose's marriage to Atticus; they are married anyway.

When Anna is arrested on suspicion of Green's murder, Bates writes a false confession before fleeing to Ireland. Miss Baxter and Molesley, a footman, are able to prove that Bates was in York at the time of the murder. This new information allows Anna to be released. Cora eventually learns the truth about Marigold, and wants her raised at Downton; Marigold is presented as Edith's ward, but Robert and Tom eventually discern the truth: only Mary is unaware. When a war memorial is unveiled in the town, Robert arranges for a separate plaque to honour the cook Mrs Patmore's late nephew, who was shot for cowardice and excluded from his own village's memorial.

The Crawleys are invited to Brancaster Castle, which Lord and Lady Sinderby have rented for a shooting party. While there, Lady Rose, with help from the Crawleys, defuses a personal near-disaster for Lord Sinderby, earning his gratitude and securing his approval of Rose. A second footman, Andy, is hired on Barrow's recommendation. During the annual Downton Abbey Christmas celebration, Tom Branson announces he is moving to America to work for his cousin, taking daughter Sybil with him. Mr Carson proposes marriage to Mrs Hughes and she accepts.

Series 6: 2015[edit]

Main article: Downton Abbey (series 6)

Highclere Castle as Downton Abbey

In series six, covering the year 1925, changes are once again afoot at Downton Abbey as the middle class rises and more bankrupted aristocrats are forced to sell off their large estates. Downton must do more to ensure its future survival; reductions in staff are considered, forcing Barrow to look for a job elsewhere. Lady Mary defies a blackmailer, who is thwarted by Lord Grantham. With Branson's departure to Boston, Lady Mary becomes the estate agent. Edith is more hands-on in running her magazine and hires a female editor. Lady Violet and Isobel once again draw battle lines as a government take-over of the local hospital is considered.

Meanwhile, Anna suffers repeated miscarriages. Lady Mary takes her to a specialist, who diagnoses a treatable condition, and she becomes pregnant again. Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes disagree on where to hold their wedding reception, but eventually choose to have it at the schoolhouse, during which Tom Branson reappears with Sybil, having returned to Downton for good. Coyle, who tricked Baxter into stealing a previous employer's jewellery, is convicted after she and other witnesses are persuaded to testify. After Mrs Drewe kidnaps Marigold when Edith is not looking, the Drewes vacate Yew Tree Farm; Daisy convinces Tom Branson to ask Lord Grantham to give her father-in-law, Mr Mason, the tenancy. Andy, a footman, offers to help Mr Mason so he can learn about farming, but Andy is held back by his illiteracy; Mr Barrow offers to teach him to read.

Robert suffers a near-fatal health crisis. Previous episodes alluded to health problems for Robert; his ulcer bursts and he is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The operation is successful, but Mary and Tom must take over Downton's operations. Larry Merton's fiancée, Amelia, encourages Lord Merton and Isobel Crawley to renew their engagement, but Lady Violet rightly becomes suspicious. Violet discovers that Amelia wants Isobel, and not her, to be Lord Merton's caretaker in his old age.[3] Daisy and Mr Molesley score high marks on their academic exams; Molesley's are so exceptional that he is offered a teaching position at the school. Mary breaks off with Henry Talbot, unable to live with the constant fear he could be killed in a car race. Bertie Pelham proposes to Edith, but she hesitates to accept because of Marigold. Lady Violet, upset over Lady Grantham replacing her as hospital president, abruptly departs for a long cruise to restore her equanimity.

Bertie Pelham unexpectedly succeeds his late second cousin as 7th Marquess of Hexham and moves into Brancaster Castle; Edith accepts him. Then Mary spitefully exposes Marigold's parentage, causing Bertie to walk out. Tom confronts Mary over her malicious behaviour and her true feelings for Henry. Despondent, Barrow attempts suicide, and is saved by Baxter, causing Robert and Mr Carson to let Barrow stay at Downton while he recovers and while he searches for new employment. Mary and Henry reunite and are married. Edith returns to Downton for the wedding, reconciling with Mary. Mrs Patmore's new bed and breakfast business is tainted by scandal, but saved when Robert, Cora and Rosamund appear there publicly to support her. Mary arranges a surprise meeting for Edith and Bertie with Bertie proposing again. Edith accepts. Edith tells Bertie's moralistic mother Miranda Pelham about Marigold; she turns against the match, but is won over by Edith's honesty. Barrow finds a position as butler and leaves Downton on good terms, but he is unhappy at his new post.

Lord Merton is diagnosed with terminal pernicious anemia, and Amelia blocks Isobel from seeing him. Goaded by Lady Violet, Isobel pushes into the Merton house, and announces she will take Lord Merton to her house to care for him and to marry him – to his delight. Later, Lord Merton is correctly diagnosed with a non-fatal form of anemia. Robert resents Cora's frequent absences as the hospital president, but encouraged by Lady Rose he comes to admire her ability after watching her chair a hospital meeting. Henry and Tom go into business together selling used cars, while Mary announces her pregnancy. Molesley accepts a permanent teaching position and he and Miss Baxter promise to continue seeing each other. Daisy and Andy finally acknowledge their feelings; Daisy decides to move to the farm with Mr Mason, her father-in-law. Carson develops palsy and must retire. Lord Grantham suggests Barrow return as butler, with Mr Carson in an overseeing role. Edith and Bertie are finally married in the series finale, set on New Year's Eve 1925. Lady Rose and Atticus return for the wedding. Anna goes into labour during the reception, and she and Bates become parents to a healthy son.

Film: 2019[edit]

Main article: Downton Abbey (film)

King George V and Queen Mary were regular visitors to Yorkshire during the 1920s especially after the marriage of their only daughter Princess Mary to Viscount Lascelles in 1922 and the birth of their first grandchild in 1923. The Royals visited every year to stay with them at their family homes of Goldsborough Hall 1922–1930 and later Harewood House. The Royals would often visit and stay with other Yorkshire estates whilst in the area or en route to their Scottish Estate of Balmoral.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main article: List of Downton Abbey characters

The main cast of the Crawley family is led by Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, and Elizabeth McGovern as his wife Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham. Their three daughters are depicted by Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley (Talbot), Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley (Pelham) and Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil Crawley (Branson). Maggie Smith is Robert Crawley's mother Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham. Samantha Bond portrays Lady Rosamund Painswick, Robert's sister who resides in Belgrave Square, London. Dan Stevens portrays Matthew Crawley, the new heir, along with Penelope Wilton as his mother, Isobel Crawley, who are brought to Downton. Allen Leech begins the series as Tom Branson, the chauffeur, but falls in love with Lady Sybil, marries her and later becomes the agent for the estate. David Robb portrays Dr Richard Clarkson, the local town doctor.

Joining the cast in series three is Lily James as the Lady Rose MacClare (Aldridge), a second cousin through Violet's family, who is sent to live with the Crawleys because her parents are serving the empire in India and, later, remains there because of family problems. In series three and four, Shirley MacLaine portrays the mother of Cora Crawley, Martha Levinson. Suitors for Lady Mary's affections during the series include Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham, Julian Ovenden as Charles Blake, and Matthew Goode as Henry Talbot. Edith's fiancé and eventual husband Bertie Pelham, The 7th Marquess of Hexham, is played by Harry Hadden-Paton.

Downton Abbey's senior household staff are portrayed by Jim Carter as Mr Carson, the butler, and Phyllis Logan as Mrs Hughes, the housekeeper. Tensions rise when Rob James-Collier, portraying Thomas Barrow, a footman and later a valet and under-butler, along with Siobhan Finneran as Miss O'Brien, the lady's maid to the Countess of Grantham (up to series three), plot against Brendan Coyle as Mr Bates, the valet to the Earl of Grantham, and his love interest and eventual wife, Anna (Joanne Froggatt), lady's maid to Lady Mary. Kevin Doyle plays the unlucky Mr Molesley, valet to Matthew Crawley. Thomas Howes portrays William Mason, the second footman.

Other household staff are Rose Leslie as Gwen Dawson, a housemaid studying to be a secretary in series one. Amy Nuttall plays Ethel Parks, a maid, beginning in series two and three. Matt Milne joining the cast as Alfred Nugent, O'Brien's nephew, the awkward new footman for series three and four, and Raquel Cassidy plays Baxter, Cora's new lady's maid, who was hired to replace Edna Braithwaithe, who was sacked. Ed Speleers plays the dashing James (Jimmy) Kent, the second footman, from series three through five. In series five and six Michael C. Fox plays Andy Parker, a replacement footman for Jimmy. In series four, five, and six Andrew Scarborough plays Tim Drewe, a farmer of the estate, who helps Lady Edith conceal a big secret.

The kitchen staff includes Lesley Nicol as Mrs Patmore the cook, Sophie McShera as Daisy, the scullery maid who works her way up to assistant cook and marries William Mason. Cara Theobold portrays Ivy Stuart, a kitchen maid, joining the cast for series three and four.

Crawley family[edit]

The series is set in fictional Downton Abbey, a Yorkshirecountry house, which is the home and seat of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, along with their three daughters and distant family members. Each series follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family, their friends, and their servants during the reign of King George V.

Downton Abbey
Crawley family tree

3rd Earl of Grantham[i]
Countess of Grantham
The HonMr. Crawley
4th Earl of Grantham[i]
Countess of Grantham
Mr. Crawley
5th Earl of Grantham[i]
Countess of Grantham
Mr. Crawley
wifeThe HonMr. Crawley
wifePatrick Crawley
6th Earl of Grantham[i](deceased)
Violet Crawley
Dowager Countess of Grantham[ii]
Isidore Levinson[iii]
Martha Levinson[iii]Robertahusband
Dr. Reginald Crawley[iv]
Isobel Grey[v]
Baroness Merton (formerly Mrs. Crawley, née Turnbull)[iv]
Richard "Dickey" Grey
Baron Merton
James Crawley[vi]
wifeLady Rosamund Painswick[vii]
(née Crawley)
Sir Marmaduke Painswick[viii]
Robert Crawley
7th Earl of Grantham[ix][i][x]
Cora Crawley
Countess of Grantham
[v][x](née Levinson)
Harold LevinsonSusan MacClare
Marchioness of Flintshire
Hugh "Shrimpie" MacClare
Marquess of Flintshire
Patrick Crawley[vi]
Original heir presumptive (presumed dead) of Robert Crawley
Matthew Crawley
Heir presumptive of Robert Crawley. Died with issue.[x]
Lady Mary Josephine Talbot
[xi](née Crawley)
Henry TalbotMichael Gregson
Natural father of Marigold
Edith Pelham
(née Crawley)
Marchioness of Hexham
Herbert "Bertie" Pelham
7th Marquess of Hexham
Tom BransonLady Sybil Cora Branson
(née Crawley)
The HonAtticus Aldridge
heir to Daniel Aldridge, 1st Lord Sinderby
Lady Rose Aldridge
(née MacClare)
James MacClare
Earl of Newtonmore
Lady Abigail (née MacClare)
George Crawley[xii]
Heir and son of Matthew Crawley and heir presumptive of Robert Crawley
Caroline TalbotMarigold Crawley[xii]Sybil "Sybbie" Branson[xii]Victoria Rachel Cora Aldridge

Explanatory notes and reference sources

  1. ^ abcdeMilevsky (2017) p.22
    "...Downton Abbey, one of the main characters is Robert Crawley, the 7th Earl of Grantham, which you will note is rank number three in nobility. His (fictitious) father would have been the 6th Earl of Grantham, his grandfather 5th, and so on."[familytree 9]
  2. ^Joseph (2016) p.31
    "[M]aggie Smith plays Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess and matriarch of the Crawley family..." "Cora, suggests to Violet's granddaughter Mary, that Mary pursue and marry the new heir..."[familytree 1]
  3. ^ abFellowes et al. (2012) p. 99–111
    "Mrs. Isidore Levinson. Mother of the Countess of Grantham" "Martha is rich". "Even Martha's own daughter does not seem entirely comfortable around her. Cora is not exactly cowed by her mother, but..."[familytree 2]
  4. ^ abFellowes (2015) p. 234
    "Not only was Isobel's late husband, Reginald Crawley, a doctor, but she herself had training as a nurse." "She comes from a proud line of medical practitioners – her father, Sir John Turnbull was a surgeon". [familytree 4]
  5. ^ abBarkman et al. (2015) p.57
    "Matthew's mother, Mrs. Crawley, is an altogether contrary study in manners and respect."[familytree 3]
  6. ^ abEditors of LIFE (2016) p. 11
    "Because Lord Grantham has no male heirs, upon his death the estate and title are set to fall to his cousin, James Crawley. However, James's son Patrick, is meant to marry Mary, which will keep the estate in Robert's family"[familytree 5]
  7. ^Irwin (2016) p. 35
    "Mary's Aunt, the Lady Rosamund Painswick, obtains information on Lavinia..."[familytree 6]
  8. ^Fellowes - 2015 - p. 445
    "The older sister of Robert, Rosamund, lives in London in the house she inherited from her late husband, Sir Marmaduke Painswick."[familytree 7]
  9. ^Fellowes (2011) p.12-17
    "Robert the Earl of Grantham"[familytree 8]
  10. ^ abcFellowes et al. (2012) p.10
    "Lord Grantham – Robert – the 7th Earl of Grantham." "The next in line (a first cousin) was lost on the Titanic, leaving a distant, unknown, middle-class relative – Matthew Crawley – as heir" "The American heiress he married was, of course, Cora..."[familytree 10]
  11. ^Morrow (2012) p.237
    "Lady Mary. Lady Mary Josephine Crawley, eldest daughter of Lord and Lady Grantham of the hit British television series, Downton Abbey.."[familytree 11]
  12. ^ abcFellowes (2015) p.102
    "Master George, the son of Mary and the late Matthew; Miss Sybbie; the daughter of Tom and the late Sybil; and Miss Marigold, the daughter of Edith and the late Michael Gregson"[familytree 12]
  1. ^Joseph, Gillian (2016). Diverse Perspectives on Aging in a Changing World. Routledge Studies in Health and Social Welfare. Taylor & Francis. ISBN .
  2. ^Fellowes, J.; Sturgis, M.; Barratt, J.; Briggs, N.; Fellowes, J.; Keyte, G. (2012). The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era. The World of Downton Abbey. St. Martin's Press. ISBN .
  3. ^Barkman, Adam; Arp, Robert (2015). Downton Abbey and Philosophy: Thinking in That Manor. Popular Culture and Philosophy. Open Court. ISBN .
  4. ^Fellowes, Jessica (2015). Downton Abbey – A Celebration: The Official Companion
    to All Six Seasons
    . The World of Downton Abbey. St. Martin's Publishing Group. ISBN .
  5. ^Editors of LIFE (2016). LIFE Downton Abbey: Behind the Scenes of the Iconic TV Show. Time Inc. Books. ISBN .CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^Irwin, William (2012). Downton Abbey and Philosophy: The Truth Is Neither
    Here Nor There
    . The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN .
  7. ^Fellowes, Jessica (2015). Downton Abbey - A Celebration: The Official Companion to All Six Series. Headline. ISBN .
  8. ^Fellowes, Jessica (6 December 2011). The World of Downton Abbey. The World of Downton Abbey. St. Martin's Press. ISBN .
  9. ^Milevsky, Moshe Arye (2017). The Day the King Defaulted: Financial Lessons
    from the Stop of the Exchequer in 1672
    . Springer. ISBN .
  10. ^Fellowes, Jessica; Sturgis, Matthew (2012). The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era. The World of Downton Abbey. St. Martin's Press. ISBN .
  11. ^Morrow, Laurie Bogart (2012). The Giant Book of Dog Names. Simon and Schuster. ISBN .
  12. ^Fellowes, Jessica (2015). Downton Abbey – A Celebration: The Official Companion
    to All Six Series
    . Headline. ISBN .


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. The TV series Downton Abbey – written and created by Fellowes – was originally planned as a spin-off of Gosford Park, but instead was developed as a stand-alone property inspired by the film, set decades earlier.[4] Although Fellowes was reluctant to work on another project resembling Gosford Park, within a few weeks he returned to Neame with an outline of the first series. Influenced by Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country,[5] Fellowes writes the scripts and his wife Emma is an informal story editor.[6]

Filming locations[edit]

  • Downton Abbey filming locations
  • Churchgate House (the old rectory), Bampton
    (Isobel Crawley's house)

Highclere Castle in north Hampshire is used for exterior shots of Downton Abbey and most of the interior filming.[7][8][9][10] The kitchen, servants' quarters and working areas, and some of the "upstairs" bedrooms were constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios.[11]Bridgewater House in the St James area of London served as the family's London home.

Map of Downton Abbey filming locations

Outdoor scenes are filmed in the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire. Notable locations include the Church of St Mary the Virgin and the library, which served as the entrance to the cottage hospital.[12] The old rectory in Bampton is used for exterior shots of Isobel Crawley's house, with interior scenes filmed at Hall Place near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.[13]

The Downton Abbey of the title and setting is described as lying in Yorkshire. The towns of Easingwold, Kirkby Malzeard, Kirkbymoorside, Malton, Middlesbrough, Ripon, Richmond, and Thirsk, each mentioned by characters in the series, lie in North Yorkshire, as does the city of York, while Leeds—similarly mentioned—lies in West Yorkshire. 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.[14]

First World Wartrench warfare scenes in France were filmed in a specially constructed replica battlefield for period war scenes near the village of Akenham in rural Suffolk.[15]

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.[16]Byfleet Manor in Surrey is the location for the Dower house, home to Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham,[17] while West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire is used for the interior scenes of Lady Rosamund (Samantha Bond)'s London residence in Belgrave Square.[18] A house in Belgrave Square is used for exterior shots.[19]

Inveraray Castle in Argyll, Scotland, doubled as "Duneagle Castle" in the 2012 Christmas special.[20]

Greys Court near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire was used as the family's secondary property, which they proposed moving into and calling "Downton Place" due to financial difficulties in Series Three. Also in the third series, Bates's prison scenes were filmed at Lincoln Castle in Lincolnshire.

Horsted Keynes railway station in Sussex is used as Downton station.[21] 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.[22] The restaurant scene where Lady Edith meets Michael Gregson and where they share their kiss is filmed at the Criterion Restaurant in Piccadilly Circus which was originally opened in 1874.[23]

Bridgewater House in the St James area of London served as the family's London home. Outdoor scenes are filmed in the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire. Notable locations include St Mary's the Virgin Church and the library, which served as the entrance to the cottage hospital. The old rectory in Bampton is used for exterior shots of Isobel Crawley's house, with interior scenes filmed at Hall Barn, Hall Place near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, featured as Loxley House, the home of Sir Anthony Strallan.[24]

Parts of series 4 were filmed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Kent – 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.[25] The production had previously filmed in Kent for series 1 where the opening sequence of a train going through the countryside was filmed at the Kent & East Sussex Railway.[26]

Other filming locations for series 4 include the ballroom of The Savile Club in Mayfair, London.[27]

Scenes for the 2013 Christmas special were filmed at Royal Holloway, University of London near Egham, Surrey, West Wittering beach in West Sussex and Berkshire's Basildon Park near Streatley. Lancaster House in London stood in for Buckingham Palace.[28][29]

Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland, was the filming location used for Brancaster Castle in the 2014 and 2015 Christmas specials, which included filming in Alnwick Castle's State Rooms, as well as on the castle's grounds, and at the nearby semi-ruined Hulne Abbey on the Duke of Northumberland's parklands in Alnwick.[30]

In Series 5 and 6, Kingston Bagpuize House in Oxfordshire was used as the location for Cavenham Park, the home of Lord Merton.[31] In Series 6 (2015) the scenes of motor racing at Brooklands were filmed at the Goodwood Circuit in West Sussex. In 2015, published a map of 70+ Downton Abbey filming locations.[32]

The 2019 film of Downton Abbey uses many of the television locations such as Highclere Castle and Bampton, as well as exterior shots filmed at Beamish Museum.[33]


The opening music of Downton Abbey, titled "Did I Make the Most of Loving You?",[34] was composed by John Lunn.[35]

A suite version was released on the soundtrack for the show on 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,[36] with lyrics written by Don Black.[37]


The rights to broadcast Downton Abbey have been acquired in over 220 countries and territories, and the series is viewed by a global audience of an estimated 120 million people.[38]

United Kingdom[edit]

The series first aired on the ITV network in the United Kingdom beginning on 26 September 2010, and received its first Britain-wide broadcast when shown on ITV3 beginning in February 2011.

STV, the ITV franchisee in central and northern Scotland (including the Orkney and Shetland islands), originally opted out of showing Downton Abbey, choosing instead to screen a brand-new six-part series of Taggart, following a long practice of opting out of networked United Kingdom-wide programming on the ITV network.[39] This led to backlash from Scottish viewers, who were frustrated at not being able to watch the programme. Many viewers with satellite or cable television tuned into other regional stations of the ITV network, for example ITV London, with viewing figures showing this is also commonplace for other ITV programmes.[40] STV announced in July 2011 that it would show the first and second series of Downton Abbey as part of its autumn schedule.[41] Scottish cast members Phyllis Logan and Iain Glen were both quoted as being pleased with the decision.[42]

United States[edit]

In the United States, Downton Abbey was first broadcast in January 2011 on PBS, as part of the 40th season of Masterpiece.[43] The programme was aired in four 90-minute episodes, controversially requiring PBS to alter the beginning and endpoints of each episode and make other small changes, slightly altering each episode's structure to accommodate fitting the programme precisely into the running-times allotted.[44][a][b] PBS also added a host (Laura Linney), who introduced each episode, explaining matters such as "the entail" and "Buccaneers"[c] for the benefit of US viewers, which was labelled by some American critics as condescending.[44] PBS editing for broadcasts in the United States continued in the subsequent seasons.[45] The fifth began airing in the United States on 4 January 2015.[46][47][48]


In Canada, VisionTV began airing the programme on 7 September 2011. Canadian audiences could also view the series on PBS. Downton Abbey was aired in French on Ici Radio-Canada Télé.[49]

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

In Australia, the first series was broadcast on the Seven Network beginning on 29 May 2011;[50] the second series was broadcast beginning on 20 May 2012;[51] and the third series beginning on 10 February 2013.[52] In New Zealand, Prime began airing the first series on 10 May 2011, the second series on 18 October 2011 and the third series on 18 October 2012.[53]


In Ireland, independent television channel TV3 aired the first series in January and February 2011.[54]


Critical response[edit]

At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the first series received an average score of 91, based on 16 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[61] This result earned the show a Guinness World Record in 2011 for "Highest critical review ratings for a TV show", making Downton Abbey the critically best received TV show in the world.[62] Season 4 of Breaking Bad surpassed Downton Abbey's record later in the year, with a score of 96, making the first series of Downton Abbey the second highest rated show of 2011.[63]

The series has been noted for its relatively sympathetic portrayal of the aristocratic family and the class-based society of early 20th century Britain. This has led to criticism from the political left and praise from the right.[64]James Fenton wrote in The New York Review of Books, "it is noticeable that the aristocrats in the series, even the ones who are supposed to be the most ridiculous, never lapse into the most offensive kind of upper-class drawl one would expect of them. Great care has been taken to keep them pleasant and approachable, even when the things they say are sometimes shown to be class-bound and unfeeling."[65]Jerry Bowyer argued in Forbes that the sympathy for aristocracy is over-stated, and that the show is simply more balanced than most period dramas, which he believes have had a tendency to demonise or ridicule upper class characters. He wrote that Downton Abbey shows "there is no inherent need for good TV to be left of center. Stories sympathetic to virtue, preservation of property and admiration of nobility and of wealth can be told beautifully and to wide audiences."[64]

Downton Abbey has been a commercial success and received general acclaim from critics, although some criticise it as superficial, melodramatic or unrealistic. Others defend these qualities as the reason for the show's appeal. David Kamp wrote in Vanity Fair that "melodrama is an uncool thing to trade in these days, but then, that's precisely why Downton Abbey is so pleasurable. In its clear delineation between the goodies and the baddies, in its regulated dosages of highs and lows, the show is welcome counter-programming to the slow-burning despair and moral ambiguity of most quality drama on television right now."[6] In September 2019, The Guardian, which ranked the show 50th on its list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century, stated that the show "was TV drama as comfort blanket: at a time of austerity, Julian Fellowes's country house epic offered elegantly realised solace in the homilies of the past".[66] Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times wrote, "Possibly the best series of the year."[67] Jill Serjeant of Reuters wrote, "There's a new darling in U.S. pop culture."[68] The staff of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "It's the biggest PBS phenomenon since Sesame Street."[69] David Hinckley of New York Daily News wrote, "Maintains its magic touch."[70]

James Parker, writing in The Atlantic, said, "Preposterous as history, preposterous as drama, the show succeeds magnificently as bad television. The dialogue spins light-operatically along in the service of multiplying plotlets, not too hard on the ear, although now and again a line lands like a tray of dropped spoons. The acting is superb—it has to be."[71] Ben W. Heineman Jr. compared the series unfavourably to Brideshead Revisited, writing "Downton Abbey is entertainment. Its illustrious predecessor in television mega-success about the English upper class, Brideshead Revisited, is art."[72] He noted the lack of character development in Downton. Writing in The Sunday Times, A. A. Gill said that the show is "everything I despise and despair of on British television: National Trust sentimentality, costumed comfort drama that flogs an embarrassing, demeaning, and bogus vision of the place I live in."[6]

Sam Wollaston of The Guardian said,

It's beautifully made—handsome, artfully crafted and acted. Smith, who plays the formidable and disdainful Dowager Countess, has a lovely way of delivering words, always spaced to perfection. This is going to be a treat if you like a lavish period drama of a Sunday evening.[73]

While rumoured due to the departure of actor Dan Stevens, the death of Matthew Crawley in the 2012 Christmas special drew criticism.[74][75] Fellowes defended the decision stating that they 'didn't really have an option' once Stevens decided to leave.[75] Stevens later said that he had no say in the manner of his character's departure but that he was 'sorry' his character had died on Christmas Day.[76]

The third episode of the fourth series, which aired on 6 October 2013, included a warning at the beginning: "This episode contains violent scenes that some viewers may find upsetting."[77] The episode content, in which Anna Bates was raped, led to more than 200 complaints by viewers to UK television regulator Ofcom,[78] while ITV received 60 complaints directly.[79] On 4 November 2013, Ofcom announced it would not be taking action over the controversy citing the warning given, that the episode was screened after 9 pm, and, that the rape took place 'off-screen'.[80] Series 4 also introduced a recurring character, black jazz musician Jack Ross, who had a brief romantic affair with Lady Rose. The casting of Gary Carr drew critical accusations of political correctness in the media. The character of Ross was partially based on Leslie Hutchinson ("Hutch"), a real-life 1920s jazz singer who had an affair with a number of women in high society, among them Edwina Mountbatten.[81][82]


The first episode of Downton Abbey had a consolidated British audience of 9.2 million viewers, a 32% audience share—making it the most successful new drama on any channel since Whitechapel was launched on ITV in February 2009. The total audience for the first episode, including repeats and ITV Player viewings, exceeded 11.6 million viewers. This was beaten by the next episode, with a total audience of 11.8 million viewers—including repeats and ITV Player views. Downton Abbey broke the record for a single episode viewing on ITV Player.[83]

The second series premiered in Britain on 18 September 2011 in the same 9 pm slot as the first series, with the first episode attracting an average audience of 9 million viewers on ITV1, a 34.6% share.[84] The second episode attracted a similar following with an average of 9.3 million viewers.[citation needed] In January 2012, the PBS premiere attracted 4.2 million viewers, over double the network's average primetime audience of 2 million. The premiere audience was 18% higher than the first series premiere.[85]

The second series of Downton Abbey gave PBS its highest ratings since 2009. The second series averaged 5.4 million viewers, excluding station replays, DVR viewings and online streaming. The 5.4 million average improved on PBS first series numbers by 25%. Additionally, episodes of series two have been viewed 4.8 million times on PBS's digital portal, which bests series one's online viewing numbers by more than 400 percent. Overall, Downton Abbey-related content has racked up more than 9 million streams across all platforms, with 1.5 million unique visitors, since series 2's 8 January premiere.[86] In 2013, Downton Abbey was ranked the 43rd most well-written TV show of all time by the Writers' Guild of America.[87]

The third series premiered in the UK on 16 September 2012 with an average of 9 million viewers (or a 36% audience share).[88]

For the first time in the UK, episode three received an average of more than 10 million viewers (or a 38.2% audience share).[89] Premiering in the US in January 2013, the third series had an average audience of 11.5 million viewers and the finale on 17 February 2013, drew 12.3 million viewers making it the night's highest rating show.[90] Overall, during its seven-week run, the series had an audience of 24 million viewers making it PBS's highest-rated drama of all time.[90]

The fourth series premiered in the UK on 22 September 2013 with an average audience of 9.5 million viewers—the highest ever for one of the drama's debut episodes.[91] It premiered in the US on 5 January 2014, to an audience of at least 10.2 million viewers, outperforming every other drama on that night; it was the largest audience for PBS since the 1990 premiere of the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War.[92] The second episode attracted an average of 9.6 million UK viewers.[93]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Downton Abbey

Cultural reaction[edit]

Although Julian Fellowes supports a united Ireland,[94] there has been criticism of the stereotypical Irish characters used in the show, specifically the character of Tom Branson's brother, Kieran, portrayed as a rude and boorish drunk.[95]Allen Leech, who plays Tom Branson defended the series, stating that the show did not portray Irish characters in a pejorative fashion.[95] Branson's character took some criticism in Ireland from The Irish Times, which described the character as "an Irish republican turned Downtonian toff."[96]

The character of the Earl of Grantham occasionally expresses negative views about Catholics and is described, by The Washington Post, as "xenophobic" but "at least historically accurate".[97] Fellowes, himself a Roman Catholic, explained that he chose to address this in terms of "that casual, almost unconscious anti-Catholicism that was found among the upper classes, which lasted well into my growing up years", adding that he "thought it might be interesting" to explore this in the series and described his own experiences where the aristocracy "were happy for you to come to their dances or shoot their pheasants, but there were plenty who did not want you to marry their daughters and risk Catholic grandchildren."[98]


Fellowes has said he tries to be as authentic in his depiction of the period as he can.[6] Despite this, the show features many linguistic anachronisms.[99] The accents of characters have also been questioned, with the Received Pronunciation of the actors who play the wealthy characters described as "slightly more contemporary" than would be expected among early-20th-century aristocrats; however, this "elicited more natural and unaffected performances from the cast".[100]

In 2010, Fellowes hired Alastair Bruce, an expert on state and court ritual, as historical adviser.[101]


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UPDATE: Netflix To End ‘Downton Abbey’ Streaming As Amazon Snatches Exclusive Rights To Latest Season

UPDATE: Deadline has learned that beginning July 1st, Netflix will cease streaming of season 1 of Downton Abbey. Hulu will continue to offer seasons 1 and 2 until an unspecified time near the end of 2013, at which point all streaming rights will belong solely to Amazon. When asked for comment, Netflix referred Deadline to statements made last week after their 2012 earnings were announced. The service stated it would “forgo or not renew content that doesn’t optimize for engagement and cost efficiency across the available content choices within the constraints of our budget.”

PREVIOUS: Seasons 1 and 2 are already available on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service, and the company says the PBS drama is its most watched series ever. Now Amazon says that it will have exclusive streaming rights to the current season of the Carnival/MASTERPIECE co-produced series beginning June 18 — and will remain the sole streaming home for the series for next season and, if it’s produced, the one after. Later this year, it says, “no digital subscription service other than Prime Instant Video will offer any seasons of Downton Abbey.” Amazon Prime shows are available to people who pay $79 a year for a combination of services including the ability to have many products that Amazon sells delivered without an additional charge. The Downton Abbey announcement comes on the same day Netflix introduced its first original series, House Of Cards. Although the e-retailer is spending far less than the $2B or so that Netflix likely will pay this year for content, it “is likely spending more than $500M and, like Netflix, is growing increasingly focused on both exclusive syndicated programming and original programming,” BTIG’s Richard Greenfield noted this week. Amazon’s recent deals provide it with streaming rights to shows including The Closer and Fallen Skies, and A&E programming. It’s also ordering up original shows.

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