Dispatch from the Downton Abbey Diaspora is written for THIRTEEN by Deborah Gilbert, a British television maven and editor of the E20 Chronicles, a free, weekly EastEnders e-newsletter, and an EastEnders column in the Union Jack Newspaper. Check back for updates.
Can’t you can feel the anticipation in the air as the fourth season of Masterpiece Classic’s Downton Abbey fast approaches? I’ve heard that some Downtonians are already planning viewing parties for the new season. Are you? If you are, please let us know. We’d love to hear about it! Then there are those Downtonians for whom the showhas been the ongoing inspiration for their art. If you follow THIRTEEN on Twitter, you’ll see them regularly posting examples of Downton Abbey inspired artwork. I especially love this recent one of Carson. Of course, there are the crafty Downtonians who go farther than the occasional painting or doodle…
Knit Wits: I don’t knit but my Mother is an expert knitter and she clued me in to a fabulous new one-off knitting pattern magazine inspired by Downton Abbey, and published by Interweave’s PieceWork magazine. Just looking at the gown in the photo on the cover of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits, you may immediately think it was inspired picture Lady Mary (I want it!). I spoke with the editor, Jeane Hutchins, who said the special magazine was a real team effort, literally a collective idea; the staff was in a big meeting to talk about future projects when someone mentioned Downton Abbey, and it all developed from there. She said, "We sent out a call for submissions from knitwear designers who have worked with us before and got some amazing submissions. The designers did all the patterns. Our toughest job was selecting them! The designers are all well known in the hand knitting industry so we were glad to get that support." The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits magazine mixes original patterns with interesting articles that give it a historical context. And PieceWork is a magazine about historical needlework so this is a perfect fit, "It gives a contemporary perspective on the garments, which is what we were trying to achieve. We wanted to design garments that knitters wanted to make and wear, not just as a costume, but we wanted this to have the same broad appeal as the amazing phenomenon, Downton Abbey." Of course Jeane is a Downtonian herself. When asked about her favorite character, she named Anna, "because she stays calm in the midst of lots of frustration and I really admire that. And she has a great sense of style, especially given what she has to work with." If you are a knitter, you are going to want this magazine! Unfortunately, I am not a knitter but I am trying to convince my mother to make one or two of the sweaters for me! The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits magazine is currently on newsstands (check Barnes & Noble) and also available in the Interweave online store.
Oh, To Be in England: There are many times and many reasons that I wish I could easily hop the pond and visit London on a whim, and here is just one more reason: To see this play! Actor/impressionist Luke Kempner has written a one-man play, a Downton Abbey parody, which premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and now it is coming to London. Titled The Only Way is Downton, it is obviously a comedic take on both Downton Abbey and The Only Way is Essex, the chav-y British reality show. Kempner plays all the parts, doing impressions of all the Downton Abbey characters. And those still mourning the death of Matthew take heart; in this play Matthew is still alive. The Only Way is Downton will be playing at Trafalgar Studios, January 27 through February 22. If you’ll be in London, please go see it and report back! Til then, you can see a little sample of Kempner’s impressions of many Downton characters here:
It’s Like Deja View All Over Again: All of us Downtonians are in for a great run up to the Season 4 premier on January 5. Both THIRTEEN and WLIW are rebroadcasting Seasons 2 and 3. If you want to pace yourself, you can catch up every Sunday night at 10pm on THIRTEEN. And if you are the hearty sort (or maybe the obsessive sort), you can watch WLIW’s Thanksgiving Day Downton Abbey marathon (seasons 2 and 3 all day, all night). THAT is something to be thankful for! And the Thanksgiving Day Downton Abbey marathon sounds like a great excuse for a theme party: Have everyone come in costume and relegate those who’d rather watch football (perish the thought) to the servant’s quarters. And one more thing to remember when you’re catching up with Seasons 2 and 3: Don’t forget to follow each episode with the Downton Abbey Dish, my tongue-in-cheek recap of each episode. Here we go starting off with Season 2, Episode 1.
Dangerous Waters: Now that the fourth season of Downton Abbey has started broadcasting in the UK, surfing the internet has become a treacherous undertaking (if you don’t like spoilers). Last week, I clicked on my Google Alerts and saw a VERY BIG spoiler that I did not want to see, and that I now cant un-see! Grrrrr… Don’t worry, I won’t reveal it here. I will never, ever reveal spoilers here. But I just wanted to vent, so thank you for listening. Anyway, even though I won’t say what it is, I will say it’s one of those events that cause lots of upset and complaint. It’s another uproar that make me feel a bit sorry for Julien Fellowes, poor old chap: Little did the man know when he started this that the characters he created would become so beloved, and the audience become so emotionally invested in them, that whenever anything terrible befalls these (allegedly fictional) characters, people would go absolutely nuts and act as if he did something horrible to a real live person, causing him to have to pull up the draw bridge and explain himself. If that ain’t becoming a victim of your own success, I don’t know what is!
Catch as Catch Can: I don’t know about you, but I am soooo glad that I can watch episodes of all these great programs online at Thirteen.org. Last weekend, I was away on business, and on Sunday night I was a little upset about missing Last Tango in Halifax and The Paradise (don’t you just hate it when real life interferes with your TV viewing?). But I remembered that I could watch these programs online to catch up before the following week – because the last thing I want is to sit down in front of the telly for my Sunday night PBS line-up having lost the plot! That just would not do!
Be the First One on Your Block: If you watched Return to Downton Abbey last week, you saw the pledge break that offered you the tantalizing option of getting all 4 seasons of Downton Abbey, with the season 4 DVD being sent to you the week after Episode 1 premiers on THIRTEEN January 5. Hello! That means you’ll get the DVD and be able to gorge yourself, ala Henry VIII with a roasted swan, sitting down to every episode in season 4 all at once! It’s a tantalizing prospect isn’t it? And the best thing about it is it will support Season 5! Hello!
Elementary My Dear Cumberbatch: Mark your calendars, because on Sunday, January 19, following Downton Abbey, the third season of Sherlock premieres on THIRTEEN. I know that all Sherlock fans have been perched on the edges of their seats since the Season 2 cliffhanger. Hopefully now you’ll all be able to sit back and relax a bit as Sherlock and Mr. Watson return to answer all the questions. Benedict Cumberbatch has been, seemingly, everywhere this year, but this is the part fans most want to see him in, and if this season is anything like the last two, it will not disappoint. And also interesting to note is, in the run up to the new Sherlock season, THIRTEEN will be airing what looks like a seriously interesting special on why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character of Sherlock Holmes was so revolutionary. He was actually a game changer for the world of real life criminal investigation. Pretty cool! More on that in an upcoming Dispatch.
But ‘til then, simply get ready to say ‘begone!’ to all those long, cold winter nights (well, at least the Sunday nights) because we are all going to be spending them tucked up in front of the telly with Lord Grantham and Mr. Holmes!