Friday, 18 September 2015

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey beckons in viewers for the final time

Written by Ben Felsenburg
Ben-Felsenburg-colour-176And now the end is near – for this is it, the curtain going up on the final series of Downton Abbey (Sunday, ITV, 9pm). Taking the long view, you can see how the plug was pulled on the untrammelled luxury of the Crawley family in the first series by the little matter of the First World War and ever since the family’s wealth has been steadily ebbing away. Here we are now in the mid-1920s and it’s come to this – the Earl pleading to Carson: ‘Who has an underbutler these days?’, and then adding: ‘Nor you nor I can hold back time.’

‘Unfortunately,’ is the steadfast servant’s stentorian response. The melancholy if philosophical exchange sums up the strain of longing for the past that underlies all the colourful drama and sumptuous glamour of Julian Fellowes’s saga. Still, let’s not get too heavy about what is after all entertainment that goes down as deliciously as an after-dinner mint. The plot rapidly thickens with a dastardly plot against Lady Mary, and the Earl must find a way to keep the finances on a level footing.

Meanwhile, marriage beckons for Mrs Hughes and Carson, and the housekeeper turns to Mrs Patmore for some worldly advice for the wedding night. ‘Perhaps you can leave the lights off?’ is the cook’s helpful suggestion.

Perhaps one day they’ll make a drama about servants and masters in our era, although I suspect they’ll need subtitles for the ‘downstairs’ scenes.



The Go- Between Sun, BBC1, 9pm
A young boy is caught up in the affair between an Edwardian lady and her lover in an adaptation of LP Hartley’s novel.

The Naked Choir With Gareth Mal one Tue, BBC2, 9pm
Our favourite choirmaster is back, in a quest to find the UK’s finest a capella singers.

Who Do You Think You Are? Thurs, BBC1, 9pm
The BBC’s fearless security correspondent Frank Gardner traces his ancestry back to the Tudor court.

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