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Posts Tagged ‘Downton Abbey’

Sorry not to have updated this blog lately, but I’ve been busy at work once again! Anyway, this is really to say that I’m still here, and have been enjoying the latest smash hit costume drama, Downton Abbey. It has been drawing audiences of around 11 million in England and Wales alone, after the controversial decision by STV not to screen the show in Scotland.

It’s odd now to think that about a year ago it was being predicted that costume drama would disappear from British TV, and from ITV in particular, as a result of budget constraints. Sadly, it does still seem that TV adaptations of older literary classics are an endangered species, with very few such productions planned in the near future – the BBC is working on The Sisters, based on DH Lawrence’s The Rainbow and Women in Love, and a new version of Winifred Holtby’s South Riding, with a script by Andrew Davies, and that’s about it at the moment. I thought someone was bound to commission a major Dickens adaptation for 2012 to tie in with his bicentenary, but have heard nothing on that front yet – though I’m hoping! (A Tale of Two Cities would probably be my choice, if anyone is wondering.)

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I was excited to hear today that Dame Maggie Smith has now been lined up to head the cast for ITV’s major new costume drama series Downton Abbey, scripted  by Julian Fellowes of Gosford Park fame. Hugh Bonneville will also star, as well as a host of other famous names, and filming is due to start next month, which the series possibly arriving on TV in the UK in the autumn. It’s a co-production with the US, but I don’t know who will get it first. Here are two links to a couple of reports with more details:

 Upstairs Downstairs at Downton Abbey

Ex Coronation St star Rob in ITV1 costume drama

 Despite the confusing headline of the first report, this isn’t the forthcoming sequel to Upstairs Downstairs, which is being made for the BBC, but a different series along similar lines. Judging by the cast, it will be essential viewing!

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I was intrigued today to see an article in the Daily Telegraph about a new follow-up series to 1970s hit Upstairs, Downstairs being made, with Jean Marsh returning as Rose, now a housekeeper, and Dame Eileen Atkins also expected to star.

The original series was made by ITV but this will now be made by the BBC – Heidi Thomas, who did the screenplay for Cranford, is writing the script. ITV has a drama on a similar theme in production, Downton Abbey. It seems as if you wait ages for a series about the family and servants in a great house, then two come along at once!;)

 I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the original series of Upstairs Downstairs, so will have to try to catch up with some of it before the new one starts! Anyway, good to see the BBC making another costume drama – this one will begin around 1930.

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Sorry again not to have been around much – I’ve  just had a couple of days away from home and am still behind with reviews I want to write! But, anyway, here is a bit of costume drama news.

This week’s Radio Times in the UK carries the news that Andrew Davies’ new adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s great series of novels The Pallisers has been axed. Davies says the BBC is going downmarket and now only commissioning adaptations of big-name works – he has also been asked to adapt David Copperfield instead of Dombey and Son, which I’m a bit disappointed about as DC has been done so many times already.

I haven’t found the Radio Times article online, but here is a link to another
report quoting the same comments:
I’m mystified by the quote saying that Davies is now adapting Arnold Bennett’s South Riding Just editing (October 6) to say that today’s Radio Times has a correction pointing out that this novel is in fact by Winifred Holtby – and that it was the magazine’s mistake, not his!  This one has been adapted before, but not for a long time, and I will be interested to see it.

On a happier note, the BBC starts showing the new Sandy Welch adaptation of
Jane Austen’s Emma this weekend – I’m really looking forward to it and also hoping it gets brilliant ratings to give TV costume drama a badly-needed shot in the arm.

ITV’s recent mini-series of Wuthering Heights, which I thought was powerful
although flawed in places, did fairly well in terms of ratings (the Radio Times
claims 4.28 million was disappointing, but I would have thought it was pretty
good during the main summer holiday period) and has also sold to networks all over the world. Possibly on the back of that, ITV has now commissioned Downton Abbey, a major nine-part series scripted by Julian Fellowes about a country house in the Edwardian era and around the First World War, which will be about both the family and the servants, as with Upstairs Downstairs – so maybe costume drama is already starting to bounce back.

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