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Going down to Downton...

...gonna meet some friends of mine

The Rt Hon Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, is reason enough to watch Downton Abbey. The line “What is a weekend?” will be remembered as a classic and, will surely be studied by students of early 20th Century high culture.

Maggie Smith aside, there are endless reasons why the country has gone Downton crazy over the past year.

From the will they, won’t they storylines both upstairs and down, to the gorgeous costumes. And from the rather dishy men (even the earl’s not without his charms), to the magnificence of Downton itself. (Highclere Castle, where Downton is filmed, is one of the more striking country piles in a country full of country piles).

Downton Abbey is the television programme du jour, and being, as we are, down with everything that is current and ‘on trend’ in the world of popular culture, we felt it our responsibility to go and watch the Christmas special in order to keep you, our public, up to date.

And, faithful reader, you will not be disappointed.

Those cliff hangers that you’ve been DYING to know the outcomes of are revealed; Lady Mary and Matthew either get it together or they don’t and Mr Bates is found innocent or guilty.

Elsewhere, Samantha Bond reappears as the snooty Lady Rosamund, sporting a wonderful fur collar that many creatures will have laid down their lives for, and Nigel Havers pops up playing a smooth-talking silver fox. (Tell us he’s stereotyped and we’ll tell you you’re lying).

While there’s much that’s familiar in this extended episode, at the same time it really does move the series forward. By the end of the episode we’re firmly out of the shadow of the Great War. And the show ends as the roaring 20s begin, setting the scene for series three, which hits our screens next year.

And a third series is needed, because this episode ends leaving as many storylines open as it does closed.

What, for instance, will happen to poor Lady Edith, sat as she has been on her rather regal shelf? And will downtrodden Daisy ever get out of that grotty smock?

The two hour special is a televisual feast. It’s a greater period dramagasm than most of series two. Maybe it was the festive nature of the show, or perhaps it was the complimentary wine we’d drunk, but there was something about this show that made it a little more special than everything that has gone before.

This episode airs on Christmas Day and really should be a part of your festive viewing schedule. Watch it with a large glass of mulled wine and a bowl full of Christmas pudding for maximum effect, safe in the knowledge had the saviour of all mankind been around this year he would have been doing exactly the same.

The Downton Abbey Christmas Special is on ITV1, Christmas Day

Words: Andrew Gonsalves, Countess of Grantham

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