I must admit, when I first saw Downton Abbey appear on my Apple TV's Top TV Series Tab, it made me do a double take.
A British TV period drama making it to the top list of downloads in the American iTunes Store?
I had to download it and see what the hype was about… Believe me, it did not fail to impress!
Set in Yorkshire at a great Country Estate, which is respectively called "Downton Abbey", owned by the aristocratic Crawley Family, the series revolves around the tenants of the estate. But unlike other period dramas, the focus isn't only on this elite family and their affairs; on the contrary you are given an inside glimpse of the goings on behind the scenes… in the staff quarters.
The staff shares center stage with the Crawleys. The viewer gets to experience the full gist of what an English Manor House during the reign of King George entails; from staff squables and gossip, to the elite family's dilemma of finding an heir, with an influx of secrets lurking behind the closed doors of this splendid estate.
The plot essentially revolves around a crisis of inheritance that the Crawley Family find themselves in. With no sons, and three single daughters, the Earl has no direct heir to his inheritance and estate but his distant cousin. The crisis is heightened when his cousin and family die in the historic sinkage of the Titanic. With his only heir dead, the Earl faces a dilemma, and that's when the story starts to unwind and take shape.
Not only is the story engrossing, the fact that it's a period drama is a welcome change from all the other popular series around.
The location of the series is also a plus and almost outshines the storyline itself. Shot with a beautiful backdrop of an actual live-standing castle called Highclere Castle (yes, the series was not shot in a studio, but an actual castle an hour's drive west of London), the show is a sight for sore eyes. The interiors are nothing less than sumptious, with lavish halls, and extravagantly furnished rooms (all part of the actual castle itself). The set is so beautiful that sometimes you can't help but be mesmerized by the backdrop and forget the story all together.
It comes as no surprise that the actual estate, Highclere Castle, has witnessed a boost in tourism and a boom in group bookings to tour around the grounds from visitors all over the world, due to the popularity of the TV series (the power of television…)
Downton Abbey, which has catapulted into fame recently, is already in its second season, with a third season being commissoned as I type and various Hollywood heavyweights being cast, including the famous actress Shirley Maclaine who is already preparing to make her debut in the third season.
The show has already won several awards including an Emmy, a Golden Globe and the hearts of viewers around the world. It's nice to see Hollywood and popular culture sway away from modern themes and delve back into history.
For more information on this award winning show Downton Abbey, check www.itv.com/downtonabbey