A wry and light-hearted look at why the odd million plus one writer have deserted Downton Abbey.
1) It all happens too fast
Remember the days when Mrs Bridges making a raised game pie could span a whole episode of ‘Upstairs Downstairs?’ Or when it took Evie at least an hour’s viewing to choose a button in ‘House of Elliot?’ Even Soames never raped Irene on the spur of the moment in the Forsythe Saga. But now, oh dear, here we are crashing and banging through multiple sub-plots in Downton with more acts than a vintage edition of TOTP. What next in series 6? Anschluss to Hiroshima in under an hour? Stobe lighting? Pans People? Maggie Smith rapping?
2) Oh Robert!
Poor Cora. I bet Elizabeth McGovern must dread looking in a new script. Losing her fortune, her husband having a pash on a comely housemaid, treading on a bar of soap and even almost dying from influenza all eliciting the same response. ‘ OH ROBERT!’ Still think of the money she saves on high-lighter pens and the time it gives her to write songs whilst the others are crouched over their lines. Still a waste of a good gal though.
3) The wrong sister died in childbirth
What a tragedy when we lost Lady Sybil. Fair enough she had a girl in the end and enjoyed a harrowing death scene which made us all cry but what feisty plot lines we missed out on when we lost our Syb. Of course that left us with Lady Mary – enough said really.
4) It should have been a girl
If only…if only Lady Mary had been blessed with a daughter we could have started ‘Search for an Heir’ all over again. Maybe the production team from X Factor could have got us all to vote or at least unearthed cheeky Barbra Windsor as ‘Bob’s’ long lost relative, the East End Pearly Queen pub landlady whose son The Artful Dodger draws moustaches on the family portraits amid cries of ‘ Cor blimey me old china look at them apples and pears!’ Sadly the lovely Penelope Wilton would have had to go back to nursing but she could have consoled herself and married the doctor.
5) Waste of talent
It’s getting a bit like East Enders up there in Downtonland. Nobody gets enough footage in a scene to do anything but say lines (at least they’re not screaming at each other – yet) – which is a shame considering the talent on parade. Michelle Dockery could actually act if only the director would let her. She is trained to do more than nod her head every time she says yes you know. Perhaps one day when she stars opposite Maxine Peake in a gritty drama noir we’ll all be able to finally say, ‘Wow look at that girl go!’
6) Oh Really O’Brien!
Yes I know Siobhan is doing a great acting job beyond the lodge gate, ( because she is brilliant) and I know the nasty Miss O’B added a certain Daphne du Maurier-esque frisson to the procedure but please, in a house that’s so well run by Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes don’t tell me somebody wouldn’t have left a note pinned to the gusset of Cora’s clean knickers spelling it out. Signed ‘A loyal retainer @ dobbingin.com.’
7) Things that go hump in the night
Considering what happened to that poor girl who had a bit of rumpy-pumpy with a house guest and got herself pregnant our boy got off lightly when he tried it on with one of the lads. Yes I know ‘Oh Robert’ had probably suffered much worse at Eton but would the ‘pink’ off switch have been flicked had the outcome been more in tune with the times? I doubt it – not with the promise of Shirley MacLaine to come. No way!
8) Enter Shirley
And exit just as quick! Amongst everything else it denied us the chance to witness two great actresses and rival ‘mothers’ having a Broadway Melody sing-off around the piano and also lost the glorious Dame Maggie the chance of a sparring partner worthy of her mettle. What next? The Kardashians coming to stay? Or Honey-Boo’s dad inheriting the title? Maybe the Lizard Lick County gang will drop in for tea?
9) All that chloroform
Lady Edith could have easily seen off her elder sister with the quick application of a well-soaked rag in between tending to the wounded. And who would have blamed her? She may be a bit flighty but under it all she’s just too much of a good egg to let the side down. Unless, that is, she’s publishing a book in Series 6 with a chapter headed ‘Turkish Delight – my sister bores a man to death in her bed.’
10) The girl that married a GI
Remember the English Rose who married a GI, became a war bride and left the village? Remember how she came back years later wearing capri pants, chewing gum, tried to make a Manhattan with Elderberry wine and told all the villagers how big her fridge was back home in Placcid Flats? Downton went west, got lost and now stays in a hotel when she visits the folks back in the UK because over a million of us are not quite sure what to make of her any more…and what exactly is ‘jello’?