It’s now only a matter of months until the Downton Abbey movie arrives in cinemas!
Fans have waited what feels like a lifetime to catch up with life upstairs and downstairs following the festive series finale back in 2015.
If you’re like our guest writer Helen McWilliams, you may be wondering what’s become of the Crawley family; is Lady Mary still married and has she provided a baby brother or a baby sister for young Master George?
How’s Robert’s health bearing up following THAT night at dinner when he unceremoniously covered his wife in blood? Speaking of blood, how is Lady Cora’s hospital work panning out, has the Dowager really backed off and let her daughter-in-law get on with it?
I suppose the question on everybody’s lips when it comes to the family themselves will be; is Lady Edith still happy?
Then there’s life below stairs too, of course. Anna and Mr Bates’ son must be getting on for 2 years of age now – will he be running amok in the kitchens getting under Mrs Patmore’s feet? Is the feisty cook happily ensconced in the arms of Mr Mason and how is young Daisy coping with that if indeed romance has blossomed?
Then there’s the Carsons – it looked as though Mr Carson was heading for a different life with his new wife when the finale bells rang out; how will life be treating them I wonder? Who can imagine a retired Mr Carson? Not me!
As we anticipate what sweet delights await us when September 2019 rolls around and Downton fans from all over the world excitedly make their way to local cinemas, let’s take a look at what’s on offer to keep the Downton vibe alive this summer…
1. Watch the stars on the small screen
TV is still one of the easiest places to find the faces we miss so much. There are a whole host of television programmes to look forward to – try and catch them!
Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith) appears in Starz’s The Spanish Princess, the much-anticipated follow-up series to The White Queen and The White Princess.
Penelope Wilton, aka Isobel Crawley, features alongside Ricky Gervais in his new Netflix comedy-drama After Life.
Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) leads the cast of Western mini-series Godless, available on Netflix now, while her onscreen husband Matthew Goode (Henry Tablot) played a vampire in the recent TV adaptation of A Discovery of Witches.
Phyllis Logan (Mrs Hughes) and Siobhan Finneran (O’Brien) both appeared in the latest season of Doctor Who, available now on BBC iPlayer.
Raquel Cassidy (Phyllis Baxter) was in last year’s eight-part ITV thriller Strangers, written by the creators of The Missing.
Meanwhile, Downton creator Julian Fellowes has no less than six projects on the way in 2019, including Netflix’s football drama The English Game, an adaptation of his novel Belgravia for ITV, NBC’s much-anticipated The Gilded Age series, an adaptation of Paul Torday’s novel The Girl On The Landing, Masterpiece movie The Chaperone (reuniting with Downton star Elizabeth McGovern), and Rothschild banking dynasty drama Five Arrows.
2. Take a trip to the theatre
Most if not all of the stars of the show are also seasoned thesps, so my recommendation is to go and see them on stage at every possible chance.
This year we know that the following shows will star favourites from Downton:
Maggie Smith will be performing on stage for the first time in 12 years, starring in A German Life at the Bridge Theatre in London for five weeks, where she’ll be the only person on stage throughout!
Hugh Bonneville is starring as Narnia author C. S. Lewis in a new production of Shadowlands this spring.
Brendan Coyle (Mr Bates) is appearing alongside Poirot star David Suchet in Arthur Miller’s The Price at the Wyndham Theatre in London.
You’ll have to get in quick though, as Elizabeth McGovern (Cora) is up next at the Wyndham Theatre starring with Hollywood actor Matthew Broderick in The Starry Messenger, from the writer of Manchester by the Sea.
3. Visit Highclere Castle
Unless you live in a sack (little ‘in joke’ for all the fans of Mrs Hughes/Carson!) there’s surely no way you wouldn’t be aware that the stunning location for Downton Abbey itself is that of Highclere Castle in Newbury, England.
Not only is the castle itself open to visitors at certain times of the year, there are also events, some of which are often Downton themed.
The hot ticket this year is the Music from Downton Abbey concert on Saturday 22nd June.
The Chamber Orchestra of London will be playing songs from the Downton soundtrack, accompanied by the show’s original composer, John Lunn, on piano.
Taking place in the grounds of Highclere Castle and hosted by actor Jim Carter, in character as Mr Carson, the event is described as “a once in a lifetime opportunity for fans both old and new.”
4. Binge-watch your Downton Abbey box sets
Or if you subscribe to Sky then episodes are available to purchase on the Sky box.
Of course, if you already own every single episode then what are you waiting for? Pour a cup of Earl Grey, put your feet up and enjoy!
5. Social media
Many of the stars of the show have social media accounts so there are plenty of opportunities to interact and catch up on their news.
Twitter and Instagram are where you’ll find most of them hanging out.
Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection DVD box set is available on Amazon.