Movies

Downton Abbey's cinematic debut driven by fans

LONDON – Everyone’s favourite English aristocrats from the Crawley family make their big screen debut in Singapore on Nov 28, after the hit TV series Downton Abbey drew to a close in 2015 following nine succesful years.

And they are back with a bang, awaiting the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Downton.

“I didn’t particularly want to see a movie when we finished the show... then there was this kind of a groundswell asking for a movie and it became real,” said Julian Fellowes, creator and scriptwriter of the show and film.

The entire cast of the series is reunited, including Maggie Smith as the acrimonious dowager countess, despite her initial refusal to slip back into the matriarch’s starched dresses.

Other actors have joined the team, including Imelda Staunton as Lady Bagshaw, whose real-life husband is Jim Carter, who plays retired butler Charles Carson.

Unfortunately, Staunton had little luck in getting her husband to wait on her, saying in mock outrage: “I got nothing out of him! He was on the other side of the dining room.”

Carter said he hopes the movie lives up to the expectations of fans.

“It’s been driven by the fans really, this film. In the three years since the TV series finished, every time we talk to someone it’s always been, ‘Is it going to be a film?’.”

Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Grantham, added she was particularly nervous about making the movie “because I didn’t want to destroy the affection that people have for the show”.

The series traced the ups and downs of the aristocratic family and their servants from 1912 to the end of 1925, mixing day-to-day gossip and intrigue with large historic themes.

The film begins in 1927, one year after the general strike that pitted the British working class against prime minister Stanley Baldwin.

Fellowes explained that this period had “always interested” him.

“From 1890 to 1940, it is only 50 years but the world changed utterly in western Europe,” he said.

Director Michael Engler, who also counts Sex And The City and 30 Rock among his credits, promises even more glamour and splendour than the series, with rivalries and romance on every level.

Kevin Doyle, who plays butler Mr Molesley, said: “It is a great skill, on Julian’s part, to be able to write for 20 characters and give them all a good story line, and do all that in two hours, it is extraordinary.” - AFP/REUTERS

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