Downton Abbey Dish #30

Deborah Gilbert | October 27, 2014

As Halloween nears, it’s time for ghosts of seasons past to come out, for thoughts to turn to things that go bump in the night and, more importantly, to what am I going to go dressed as? Will you be dressing up as a Downton Abbey character this Halloween? If you do, please tweet us a picture of yourself! (See instructions below.) But first, there’s a new trailer to get to…

Come On Baby, Light My Fire: Masterpiece continues its Dance of the Seven Veils, releasing the first official trailer of Season 5:

It looks like things are heating up in more ways than one, and that darn Thomas does something heroic, AGAIN! Edith seems to make a bad decision about who to reveal her Big Secret to, naturally. And have you wondered what’s been happening since the Lady Mary Love Triangle battle commenced? In this interview clip, Michelle Dockery talks about Lady Mary bringing the sassy back. She’s thrown off her mourning frocks [CS1] and is back to hoarding all the live men. Of course she is. January 4th is almost here!

Mrs. Hughes, Meet Mrs. Hughes: Maybe I’m a little out of touch, but I never heard of cosplay until last year’s Downton Abbey cast Q&A event here in NYC where Lorraine Rosenberg made a big splash by turning up dressed as Lady Edith in her ill-fated wedding gown. But it turns out that cosplay is a big thing. “It’s one way to gather together and be nerds!” according to Lorraine, a nurse by day and cosplayer by hobby.

Two other Downtonians, Heather Pierce and her husband David, were first drawn to cosplay because, “It was just great to meet people as into Downton Abbey as we are!” They consider themselves ‘amateur’ cosplayers because they don’t make their own costumes. Heather found cosplay costume builder MaryAnne Vivandiere on Facebook, but initially assumed she wouldn’t be interested in making a Mrs. Hughes costume because it was so different than her other work. However, when she asked, MaryAnne replied, “It would be a DREAM to make this dress. I love Downton Abbey so much! Heather provided MaryAnne with a picture of Mrs. Hughes’ dress from Season 1.MaryAnne researched the types of undergarments and fabrics needed to make it look as authentic as possible. David, who dresses as Mr. Carson, found his mourning coat on eBay and tailored it himself. Lorraine made Edith’s wedding gown herself, but for her red dress she commissioned Mona Bocca So now they were dressed; where would they go? Well, as it happened, their costumes took them on an adventure that most Downtonians would envy.

Recently Lorraine, Heather and David attended Dragon Con in Atlanta, one of the largest cosplay conventions, to speak on a Downton Abbey panel and came face-to-face with the real deal: Phyllis Logan AKA Mrs. Hughes! Most cosplayers dress as sci-fi, horror or comic book characters, but, as Heather says, “There’s a place for everyone.” Some people come dressed as Jane Austen characters, and there is also a Downton Abbey contingent.

Our trio bumped into Phyllis (Mrs. Hughes) and her husband, actor Kevin McNally* (Pirates of the Caribbeanoutside the hotel. Upon learning of the Downton Abbey panel, Kevin convinced his wife to join it as a surprise guest. Afterwards, he invited our trio to have drinks and take pictures, and Phyllis took some for herself  to show to Jim Cater (AKA Mr. Carson). Both Lorraine and Heather say Phyllis and Kevin were as nice as could be, and they ended up spending quite a bit of time with them over that weekend.

L. – R. Heather, Phyllis, David, Lorraine, Phyllis


“They were so down to earth I felt like I’d already known them for a long time,” said Heather.

Lorraine recalled that Phyllis remembered her from the New York event and said, “every time she saw me she greeted me with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.” So what did the real Mrs. Hughes have to say about Heather’s Mrs. Hughes costume? “She thought we did an amazing job but joked, You know, I wear my keys on the other side!” They spent some time comparing notes on costumes and corsets, with Phyllis remarking, “I’m the only one in corsets still.” When Heather commented that she didn’t find hers too uncomfortable, Phyllis joked, “try wearing it for 15 hours!”

It sounds like a memorable time was had by all!

*Downtonians will also remember Kevin as Mean Mr. Bryant who took Ethel’s baby away in Season 3. He said that he didn’t tell Phyllis he was auditioning for the show. When he got it, just said to her, “Guess what? I’m gonna be on set!”

House Hunt: Speaking of costumes, you may think you are a seriously crafty Downtonian, but neither you nor I can compare to this guy who created a costume that makes him look like Downton Abbey (AKA Highclere Castle) itself. Think about all the time that went into this; think about the 3-dimensional design and engineering skills required to pull this off; think about… how the heck is he going to get through the door??? 

Death Comes to Pemberley: Am I the only one who, upon first hearing this title, was hoping it referred to Caroline Bingley?? Anyone? Oh well, in case you have yet to watch the first episode of this fantastic two-part series, I won’t give away the identity of the stiff. But I will say this, it is all kinds of fabulous and worth every bit of the anticipation of waiting for it to arrive on our shores! How many times have you read a great book and tried to imagine what happened to the characters after that last precious page? This series is based on the P.D. James novel that imagines what happened to Elizabeth and Darcy six years after Pride & Prejudice ends. I loved the way they set the table, reintroducing us to the familiar old characters as well as the new ones, how about you? Our Lizzie is still the independent spirit we remember and she still calls her (now) hubby Mr. Darcy, which is a little bit kinky I think, amiright? It even allows Bletchley Circle’s Anna Maxwell Martin to have the chance to do some sleuthing again. If you missed episode one, get yourself caught up before Sunday night’s conclusion! Watch it online here.

Poor Edith: How successful have you been at avoiding Downton Abbey spoilers from the UK on social media this past month? Last year, I accidentally heard about the attack on Anna and was upset knowing that was going to happen because it didn’t allow me to be charmed by Green upon his arrival. That left me wondering how my experience of the season might have been different had I not known in advance. But then again, perhaps I would have been more upset by the attack plot twist itself because it would have been a surprise. In any event, this season I’m doing well and have avoided all spoilers so far. The only thing I did catch was someone saying, “Poor Edith” on Twitter, but technically that’s not a spoiler; that could be said of basically every episode since Season 1, Episode 1!

Hat Trick: At a recent press event Joanne Froggatt described the upcoming Season 5 in just three words. That’s all.