Downton Abbey is back for a second series. The first series of Downton Abbey was a huge hit, garnering audiences of over 13 million and travelling well to the United States.
Producer Liz Trubridge was thrilled by the response “I’m absolutely delighted that it has appealed internationally. It covers universal themes – love, family, romance, relationships, people who have, and people who have not”. As a result, Gareth Neame, the Executive Producer, has hinted that the show may continue for a third series: “I think the show has a lot of legs because we’re moving through history and Julian’s writing continues to grip. I think it can go on as long as the audience want it and as long as Julian wants to keep writing it.”
The second series is set two years since the outbreak of war. Thomas is already at the front in the medical corps.
A wish to be active, helpful and involved in the war effort is gnawing at several members of the household with William branded a coward for not enlisting and Lady Sybil considering a hands-on approach at the hospital, despite not even knowing how to make tea. The Earl of Grantham has donned his uniform to help the home guard, but is somewhat snubbed by the army proper.
Many people are hoping that the war will bring change – especially the politically minded chauffeur, Branson. A new maid has replaced Gwen Dawson. Ethel Parks, played by Amy Nuttall, is a another ambitious young housemaid looking to the tumult of war as an opportunity to further herself.
Creator Julian Fellowes explains the effect of the war on the series’ characters:
“The heart of this series is how everyone from Daisy to Robert copes with the country being at war. Robert says, ‘War is now reaching its long fingers into Downton, scattering our chicks.’ None of them is unaffected by the war. All of them change. And death does not entirely pass Downton Abbey by.
“At the end, people are nervously seeing how much of their previous lives can carry on – it’s like they’re pressing parts of their body to see where they have been bruised. This series is about getting through the war. Cora goes off to do charity work and says, ‘I’m different now.’ It is impossible to remain unaffected by the war – unless you’re Violet! When asked if she wants everything to return to the way it was before the war, she replies, ‘I certainly do and as quickly as possible!’”
In the first episode, viewers will see the heir of the estate at the front lines of the Somme as well as presenting his new fiancée, Lavinia Swire. It seems that Mary is going to find it difficult to put their broken engagement behind her, even if she is threatening to introduce a newspaper magnate to the family.
Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess has another series of top lines – “Cora’s flowers always look better suited to a first communion, in Southern Italy” – though her snobbery is balanced by a stoic attitude to the demands of war which see her surprisingly supportive of the young ladies’ efforts to help, despite their elevated position in society.
“Downton Abbey” Season 2 Episode 1 airs on ITV at 9pm on 18th September 2011.
- Lady Rosamund Painswick played by Samantha Bond
- Earl of Grantham, Robert played by Hugh Bonneville
- Lavinia Swire played by Zoe Boyle
- Lady Sybil Crawley played by Jessica Brown Findlay
- Lady Edith Crawley played by Laura Carmichael
- Mr Carson played by Jim Carter
- John Bates played by Brendan Coyle
- Lady Mary Crawley played by Michelle Dockery
- Molesley played by Kevin Doyle
- Vera Bates played by Maria Doyle Kennedy
- Sarah O’Brien played by Siobhan Finneran
- Anna Smith played by Joanne Froggatt
- William Mason played by Thomas Howes
- Thomas Barrow played by Rob James-Collier
- Tom Branson played by Allen Leech
- Mrs Hughes played by Phyllis Logan
- Andrew Lang played by Cal Macaninch
- Countess of Grantham, Cora played by Elizabeth McGovern
- Daisy Robinson played by Sophie McShera
- Mrs Patmore played by Lesley Nicol
- Ethel Parks played by Amy Nuttall
- Doctor Clarkson played by David Robb
- Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet played by Maggie Smith
- Matthew Crawley played by Dan Stevens
- Isobel Crawley played by Penelope Wilton
Written and created by Julian Fellowes
Executive Producers: Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes
Producer: Liz Trubridge
Line Producer: Charles Hubbard
Director: Ashley Pearce