New period drama begins this weekend

By Rosanna Holmes,
22nd September 2010 - 07:35
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Julian Fellowes' latest work Downton Abbey airs on ITV1 on Sunday night

The Oscar-winning screenwriter of Gosford Park and The Young Victoria, Julian Fellowes is an expert when it comes to country houses of yesteryear. But even he was stumped when it came to the practice of serving soup, a quandary that cropped up during the filming of his latest ITV drama, Downton Abbey, which hits our screens on Sunday night.

 

‘Was it served by the butler at the sideboard and carried plate by plate, or did the guests serve themselves at the tureen?’ he ponders.

Set in a country house in 1912, Downton Abbey, which stars Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville, explores the relationships between the Crawley family and the servants who work for them during the Edwardian age.

‘It’s a transitional period,’ explains Julian. ‘We have the modern world coming in. The family has a car, a telephone, electricity on at least one floor of the house, but they are bound by the conventions and the moralities of centuries.’
 
Highclere Castle in Berkshire is the setting for the series. ‘I love Highclere. It’s an extraordinary, wonderful fairytale fantasy,’ he says. ‘It’s one of my favourite properties and I’ve long wanted to film there.’
 
Tune into the first of seven episodes at 9pm on ITV on Sunday 26th September.