Downton Abbey has been with us for five years, has aired six seasons, has won twenty-three awards, and has become a national television treasure.
Downton Abbey first aired in 201o and began its story in 1912 and has followed the life of the aristocratic Crawley family who live in their large, ancestral home in Yorkshire. The series watches as the Crawley family and their many servants deal with the drama of their personal lives and the social and political climate of their small corner of society and the wider world around them.
The series has seen many bold and vibrant characters played by an esteemed British cast including Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery and Penelope Wilton. The characters have reflected the swiftly changing times and challenges of the Edwardian period and have carried us through some memorably tragic and moving, as well as comical and entertaining storylines and relationships.
The final series which aired this year was set in 1925 and over the thirteen years that Downton has spanned, there have been many births, marriages, deaths and secrets in Downton and both the nationally loved Crawley family and their equally loved servants have seen much change.
The Christmas day special was not only a close to this year’s series, but was the conclusion of a five year television journey as Britain said goodbye to Downton Abbey forever. The finale was a highly successful farewell and gained almost 7 million viewers, making it the most successful programme on Christmas Day apart from the Queen’s Speech.
The finale was not about creating new narrative threads but was about wrapping up an unique television journey. It may have been overly convenient at times with romances finally coming together, last minute pregnancies, job opportunities opening up and generally just everything falling into place. In a way this gave it a rushed and unhealthy feel and brought something that ought to be intelligent writing and drama, and made it a burst of festive cheer and Christmas hope. However, at the same time, it was the right time to conclude the drama. No more ifs and buts and whens and whys. It was finally time to see a group of now household characters from both upstairs and downstairs celebrate their New Year, wish each other well in the future and get their happily ever after.
Goodbye Downton…and thank you…
By Caroline Malcolm