06x00 - More Manners of Downton Abbey

The staff will be waiting...

I'm Alastair Bruce, historical advisor forDownton Abbey. For the past six years, I've been making sure that every detail of the show accurately reflects the glamorous world of the British aristocracy.

Yes, you'll take the second glove off.

He really keeps everything feeling authentic.

Bruce: From the correct way to dress for each occasion to the rules for going hunting, join me for More Manners of Downton Abbey, a Masterpiece special.

Alastair Bruce: Downton Abbey depicts a world of aristocratic manners, social rituals, fashions, and forms of behavior which have largely disappeared...

How do you do?

My lady.

Bruce: ..but which remain fascinating to this day.

You are asking me to travel without a valet.

It was a world of elegance and luxury for the lucky few, and hard work and a sense of dedicated service for the rest.

Very good, my lord.

But it was also a world driven by formality and restraint, informed by a sense of honor, duty, and tradition.

The habits and customs of Downton Abbey above stairs and below may seem strange to us today, but they were essential rules for the way life was lived.

The details of that way of life are my specialty.

I'm Alastair Bruce, the historical adviser on the show since the first season.

Basically, what'll happen is the car will come down, the staff will be waiting.

As the cars come in, they'll walk towards them and then they'll open the doors as they stop.

Is that all right?

Crew: And action!

Bruce: It's my job to make sure that the world of writer and creator Julian Fellowes is an accurate portrayal of life in an English country house in the early part of the 20th century.

Do you ever, when you're writing, think about what I have to unwrap in terms of the choreography?

I'm so glad it's not me.

That's all I know.

Bruce: And to make sure that 21st century actors behave in the way that people did then.

He's known as "the Oracle."

Crew: Here we go, full rehearsal.

Bonneville: His eye for detail is absolutely magnificent.

And at that point...

He just knows the answers.

Can you just be mesmerized by that?

Because it's such an extraordinary thing to happen.

It makes everything so precise and it makes that world live.

Kevin Doyle: From the way a table is served at dinner to what somebody would be doing at certain times of the day.

Jim Carter: "Cocktails at this time of night?

"Drinking coffee out of those cups?


I love the way you look at it yourself.

I know!

You would do, but you would do!

He really keeps everything feeling authentic.

He's going to have to be behind them and take the hat.

That'd be lovely.

It's like he rolls out this carpet and now you're in 1924.

And this is where we film Downton Abbey: Highclere Castle in southern England.

And you can tell by the glorious architecture that this was built for a great family.

And for us, it's where the Crawleys live.

And we create a whole universe of all the strange rules and duties that had to be performed in order to keep status as it should be.

Crew: And turn over.


At speed.

Turning on.

And action!

Bruce: The great English country houses were not just palaces for the aristocracy.

They were entire social systems in which everyone had a role to play.

A house as grand as Downton Abbey was a well-oiled machine.

Everything had to be done like clockwork.

Everyone knew exactly where they had to be and when in order that everything worked as it should.

And all of it began at 5:15 in the morning, when the scullery maid woke up.

(bell ringing)

Sophie McShera: She would get up before anyone else in the house, and one of her roles was to wake everyone else up.

Bruce: Every morning, up the servants' staircase would come the scullery maid, carrying two huge hods of coal, stoke up the fire and bring it to life.

The family would wake up in warmth; she'd woken up in the cold.


And they're off.

No rest for the wicked.

The personal valets and ladies' maids were the family's alarm clock.

They'd start the day with opening the curtains and giving them a nice cup of tea.

It seems rather shocking for Anna to have to find me en deshabille.

I'm made of stout stuff, sir.

Don't worry about that.

Joanne Froggatt: In Anna's case, Lady Mary rings first thing in the morning.

Anna will have already had breakfast, Anna will have got her clothes prepared for the day.

Dockery: And they would maybe decide between them what they were wearing, depending on where she was going or the activities of the day.

Goodness, the York and Ainsty are holding a point-to-point at Canningford Grange on Saturday.

After a long soak in the bath at 8:00, being dressed by his valet at 8:15, Lord Grantham would come down the grand staircase at exactly 8:30.

Waiting for him downstairs in the dining room would be eggs, bacon, kedgeree, everything you could imagine.

And all he had to do was to read the newspaper and enjoy his post.

It was a delicious way to start the day.

Morning, Carson.

Good morning, my lord.

Bonneville: A normal day would involve, after breakfast, going through all the letters and bills and various meetings.

He loved to go for a walk with his dog.

Bruce: Of course, Lord Grantham would largely be oblivious to the engine room below stairs.

The absolutely frantic life of what goes on below stairs gives you a sense of what went into making a house like this actually work.

Have you laid the servants' hall breakfast?

Yes, Mrs. Patmore.

And finish blacking that stove.

Yes, Mrs. Patmore.

Lesley Nicol: When we ever rehearsed a kitchen scene, the first question would always be, "What time is it?"

That would dictate the speed, always, because if we're about to serve, then it would be manic.

No, not like that.

Bruce: There was a massive community living here, not just the family upstairs.

They all needed to be fed, they needed wood and coal brought in, the stuff from the farm, all of it prepared here in order to make sure that for those upstairs, it was a blissful life of perfection.

It's been a happy day, Robert.

Let's end on a happy note.

Bruce: The lady of the house would be in charge of the overall ambience, with the application of graceful touches rather than practical knowhow.

Lady Grantham, this is so kind of you.

Not at all, Duke.

We're delighted you could spare the time.

I think we'll go through.

Elizabeth McGovern: I don't think Cora knows the first thing about cooking or kitchen management.

She would be probably totally shocked by the detail of what the production of an actual meal requires.

So she's a total innocent.

Robert, come quickly.

What is it?

Apparently, the oven's broken down.

Robert: It can't have done.

What does that mean?

To cut a long story short, it means we have no food.

I think Robert is fairly ignorant about how the cogs turn.

I think it's very true to say that the butler knows more than the master of the house about how that house operates.

My lord, I wonder if I could have a word?

Can't it wait?

No, my lord, it can't.

Carter: Carson is the link, obviously, because he's the one who moves most freely between upstairs and downstairs.

He's the captain of the ship, really.

Our job as staff is to make life upstairs perfect.

We're stage managers.

The show takes place upstairs, and we do our job backstage.

Crew: And action!

Bruce: There's no better example of the stage management of daily life above stairs than the ritual of afternoon tea.

Tea was an incredibly important part of the day because it made a place where they could stop as a family between luncheon, which had finished at about 2:00, and they don't dine until half past 8:00, effectively.

And it meant for the household staff, the family were all here, which meant that the maids could go and clean all the other rooms.

They had the run of the house, and they knew they wouldn't be disturbed or that they would not disturb the family.

What's bothering me at the moment with a guardsman's eye is that this table is not absolutely central to that fireplace, which means that the symmetry between the two sofas and this is not achieved.

And the whole dignity of this theater is that things like that were attended to with precision.

It should be... there should be a line.

There should be a line that runs from here straight to the center of the fireplace, cutting this right in half.

One, two, three.

That enough?

Bit more?

Crew: Thank you very much, here we go.

Full rehearsal, action!

Carson, you shouldn't have to do that.

Where are the footmen?

That is something I need to discuss with you, m'lord.

Bruce: It is absolutely not normal for the butler to bring in tea, and that is why it is noticed and acknowledged by the family immediately.

The family notice any change to the rigid structure of this household process.

It's all done meticulously to time.

Tea is brought in at ding ding ding, 5:00.

And the whole house knows that.

Anyone who's late for tea is in terrible trouble.

Oh, lovely.

Bruce: Interestingly, people drank tea differently below stairs than they did above.

Below stairs, they put the milk in first, whereas above stairs, they put it in second.

Now, the theory goes that because below stairs the china was of an inferior quality, by putting the milk in first, you protected it from cracking when you poured in the hot tea.

Can you put my milk in first if that's for me?

Bruce: Precision and punctuality were essential to the smooth running of a house like Downton Abbey.

We ought to be heading off if we're to be back before the gong.

The evening ritual was ruled by the dressing gong.

It was what made sure everybody knew what was happening.

And at precisely 7:00, Carson would come, and with the sonorous sound of the gong, alert everybody from the top of the house right down into the basement, now was time to get ready for dinner.

(gong ringing)

Has the gong been rung yet?


Carter: The gong rules the day, really.

There's the dressing gong to tell people when to go upstairs to get dressed, there's a dinner gong to tell them when to sort of come in for dinner.


(gong ringing)

That's the gong.

Carter: Everything is ruled on a strict timetable, so we run by times, timetables, bells, and gongs.

(bell ringing)

Perhaps the most iconic emblem of Downtown Abbey is the bell board.

And it is a symbol of the incredible work that connected what was required upstairs to the staff in its huge number down here below.

And the footmen would stand here and keep eye over the whole thing.

And he'd have all the information of who'd need what and at what time.

Take care of that, thank you.

Bruce: Everything was here.

It was the school notice board for the staff, and regularly, people would come and check.

For instance, if the bedroom went...


...in Mercia like that...

...he would know who was in it, find the relevant lady's maid, send her rushing up those stairs with whatever was required to be dressed in.

And it was an endless round of work, and it never stopped.

(bell ringing)

Her ladyship's ringing.

Bruce: If life below stairs was all about long hours and endless toil, then life upstairs, despite its responsibilities, was all about leisure, pleasure, and endless social activities.

Carson: In my opinion, if you're tired of style, you are tired of life.

A life of leisure had to be lived with style, and aristocratic style had to appear effortless, even though an enormous amount of work went in to maintain the appearance of graceful ease.

To look good and to look right at home and at social events was essential.

I nearly put out the new dinner jacket, m'lord, but then Mr. Carson said the Dowager was dining here.

Quite right.

Mustn't frighten the horses.

You dressed in white tie in a house like this for dinner.

Black tie started creeping in as this sort of racy new garment.

Why are you not in white tie?

Darling, please forgive me, I'm afraid they never sent my tails back.

White tie doesn't just refer to the color of the tie, it refers to the entire outfit.

And it evolved from the smart stuff that was worn around the king at court.

There are tails at the back because when riding, you needed to separate the coat so that it sat comfortably on the back of the saddle.

You don't flick your tails when you sit down like a concert pianist because you've got a valet who will iron them for you.

So you just sit.

Black tie was much more relaxed, and men with this outfit no longer had to have such stiff shirts pushing up into their neck and down into their tummies.

With the black tie, you also had a very much more conventional cut of jacket which finished just below the waist.

It was popularized by Edward, the prince of Wales.

He wore it to upset his father, King George V, and for that precise reason, it really annoyed the Dowager Countess.

You're not in white tie either?

What have you come as?

I'm so sorry, Thomas has lost all my dress shirts.

The Dowager of course is the great litmus test of what is appropriate and what is not.

Oh, do you think I might have a drink?

Oh, I'm so sorry, I thought you were a waiter.

And what are you doing over there?

I'm currently doing the decoration for Lady Mary's dress.

This is all hand sewn.

Dockery: I've loved the costumes.

It really is such a luxury to wear those clothes.

And they are so beautifully made.

Bruce: The designers source and recondition original dresses from as far away as Paris, or they make replicas using vintage fabrics and authentic patterns.

Elegant clothing was the perfect way to demonstrate wealth and status, and aristocratic ladies changed up to seven times a day, always to have precisely the right outfit for what they were doing.

They dressed for coming down to breakfast, then they'd change to go for a walk or visit friends.

Then they'd change for lunch.

In the afternoon, they might change for a ride before changing once again for tea, dinner, and, finally, bed.

And it was also a way of showing they didn't really have to work at all.


Oh, that's lovely.

You don't think it's a bit mumsy?

No, it's very chic.

Bruce: And a life of style would be impossible without a lady's maid.

Are you looking forward to London?

I am.

Dockery: You can't actually dress yourself.

So some of the blouses, there's, you know, 20 buttons that go down the back.

You just can't do it yourself.

We must choose the clothes carefully so you can take them on and off without my help.

Well, I'll have his help.

Honestly, m'lady.

Froggatt: Anna is Lady Mary's dresser and hairdresser and beautician and confidante.

I mean, they can barely tie their own shoes.

I don't know why not, but I don't know.

Raquel Cassidy: It's literally like having a grown-up baby, and you do everything for them, from, you know, drawing a bath to washing their smalls to helping them choose the clothes that they're going to wear.

Elegant but sensible.

I know.

I'll let you choose.

Froggatt: A servant is not allowed to have her hair in a way that's too intricate or wear too much make-up.

A servant has to be invisible, really.

But the smartest people in the house were always the footmen.

For them, it was all about looking immaculate.

They were the front of the house, and for the family, making sure that they had the tallest really counted.

They'd make sure that a footman was properly dressed.

They'd also make sure that the buttons would have the livery of the house.

Every element of what you're wearing was to display the house and to make sure that it was immaculate.

Was this a specific style as well, the waistcoat?

They tended to be stripe-y, and that's really because it showed rank.

So a footman would have a stripe-y one, and then if you became an underbutler, you'd get a completely plain one and you'd get velvet collars.

Everything was about status and position.

And, you know, your aspiration would be to be a butler one day.

While servants' clothing hardly changed at all, for aristocratic ladies, the roaring '20s ushered in a golden age of fashion.

Dockery: Well, the costumes, looking back on series one, felt like a different show.

I knew there was something going on.

Dockery: You know, we were in corsets, the waistlines were higher, it was a very, very different period and a much more restricted time for women.

I'll admit that if I ever wanted to attract a man, I'd steer clear of those clothes and that hat.

Michelle and I were saying the other day that we feel like we've learned so much about this world.

It's been a real education.

The costume for the farm during the war was the first time I wore trousers as Edith.

It's simple!

Carmichael: You know, it really demonstrates how their lives were changing as they needed clothes that were far more durable, far more practical.

Bond: There's a huge shift in fashion.

Pre-war, we're all still in those hideous corsets and life's a nightmare.

And then suddenly, it's the clothes that are loose.

You know, you can move.

There's an extraordinary feeling of excitement, of liberation, of times moving on.

Carmichael: The wonderful thing is that the costumes add to the storyline.

My incredible beaded dress that I wore in the Criterion has been a big deal, because it's a moment in the story that you see Edith sort of become a woman.

I love the Criterion.

Carmichael: She's meeting a married man, and it's completely different from anything we've seen her wear before or anything we've seen her do before.

Bruce: The 1920s were a revolutionary time for women's fashion.

Dockery: The fashion show was the beginning of that period in the '20s, and it was like Coco Chanel burst onto the scene.

Golly, that'd be useful.

Dockery: So that fashion show was a kind of explosion, and, you know, a bit of a revelation for Mary, I think.

Oh, yummy.

The London hats that Rosamund pitches up in are astonishing.

And there's a wonderful... I think it's series three when she arrives with this black thing and there's quite often feathers going up.

Bruce: The other radical transformation was in ladies' hair.

It is wonderful on you, m'lady.

I hope so.

My father will explode.

Mais, superbe.

Dockery: Well, the bob was a real poignant moment in the show.

I'd been wanting it for a long time.

Thank you.

You've made me feel very strong.

Because the shingle cut was the hairstyle of the moment, but Julian was waiting for the perfect moment for that image, which was when, you know, she needed to change.

Which is often why women cut their hair, isn't it?

You know, you go through a breakup or whatever and you just lob it all off, so it was partly that.

And just the feel of it, it just changed everything.


Well, we really are living in the modern world.

Golly, I'm jealous.

And it was radical at the time.

Granny, what do you think?


It is you.

I thought it was a man wearing your clothes.

You know, bringing in those real sort of androgynous Chanel looks was a real change for me.

What are the new maids like?

Dockery: And now we've come to series six, it's like a completely different show, and some of the dresses and blouses and jewelry you could wear today.

You know, sometimes I'm tempted to steal a blouse at the end of the day and just wear it with a pair of jeans.

Sling on a pair of heels, and, you know, off I go.

Bruce: Dressing up was also part of having fun.

And what is planned for the women?

Well, there's a picnic by the loch the day after tomorrow, and the Gillies Ball on Friday is always good fun.

So long as it's not too much fun.

Like everything else in this highly regulated world, fun was governed by the rhythms of the year.

There were seasons for sport, for hunting, for house parties, and for balls.

The summer season took place in London and was a whirlwind of parties, picnics, regattas.

Is it going all right?

So far as you're concerned.

Bruce: And visits to exhibitions and the opera.

Carmichael: There's very much a social calendar that the Crawleys and other aristocracy were part of, and so whether that's the sort of social scene in London or it's to do with the time of year, what sort of hunt they're doing.

Robert: We'll walk to the first drive, then use the wagonette after that.

Bruce: In August, on the Glorious Twelfth, the grouse shooting season was officially opened, followed by partridge in September and pheasant in October.


Bonneville: You've got things like the grouse shooting as well as stalking.

These are all parts of the social calendar.

I'm Bertie Pelham, the agent.

It's as much part of the social fabric as the Debutantes' Ball.


Harry Hadden-Paton: Well, it's not only the guns that are part of a shooting party.

You've got the beaters, the team of beaters with a gameskeeper.

Then there were flankers with flags, who were waving the birds in from the side.

We had loaders.

Thank you.

So there was a whole army of people.

Carmichael: It's also quite slow.

You're waiting for the birds to arrive, so there are moments to chat to your partner.

How long have you been the agent?

About a year and a half.

These are all part of the sort of social network where people reciprocate hospitality and where allegiances and matches are made and deals done probably as well.

Ah, here they come.


Outdoor pursuits required the right kind of clothing, and the perfect material for the British country gentleman out and about on his estate or attending shooting parties was Harris tweed.

Originating from the west coast of Scotland, this incredibly hard-wearing and almost water-resistant cloth became extremely popular for all those engaged in country pursuits.

(dogs barking)

Fox hunting took place from November to March and was an exhilarating and lavish part of the social calendar.

Dockery: For Mary, riding is very much part of her daily pursuits.

It's like going for a run.

She goes out on a ride in the grounds, it kind of, you know, releases something.

When it came to the outdoor activities like the hunt or the point-to-point, there were different uniforms for each one, and so the point-to-point was tweeds.

I'm dying to ride astride.

Why don't you?

Not if my grandmother's watching.

There's more of a sort of country feel to it, whereas the hunt was much more traditional.

Lady Mary Crawley, I presume.

You know, an aristocratic feel to that costume with the top hat and the black and white.

Bruce: Top hats were worn for protection, an early if unlikely form of riding cap.

But going hunting for the aristocracy echoed a time when they went out with the king and the court and they wore their very best: white britches, which were incredibly impractical, and a beautiful scarlet coat that was soon covered in mud.

They were known as hunting pinks after the incredibly fashionable 18th century London tailor Thomas Pink, who made them.

Dockery: In series six, I actually...

It's the first time I'm going to talk about it, but I actually fell from the horse like Mary does.

I just lost my balance and I just fell.

And I was fine, you know, it was nothing, I was just a bit achy for a week.


But I actually did what Mary does in that episode, so it was a good rehearsal.

Crew: Okay, let's turn, please.

And action!


(high-pitched): And that's the way to do it!


Of course, what's extraordinary about this time compared to today is that they had no television or anything else and they had to make all the entertainment themselves: things like Punch and Judy or card games.

They would sing to themselves round the piano.

♪ I'm in love with you... ♪

Bruce: And what about below stairs, where there was hardly any leisure time?

Fun for the staff was self-made.

Largely, it all happened here in the servants hall.

Do you know racing demon?

I've heard of it, but I've never played.

Ed Speleers: So there were moments, but I suppose you had to make your own fun as well, whether that be card playing or taking an interest in female members of the staff.

That's always quite fun.

What do you want?

To have a good time, to see the world, to meet beautiful women and spend money and drink champagne.

Occasionally, the fair might come to the local village, which was the usual coconut shies and bearded ladies and all the rest of it.

But can you imagine?

It was like visiting, you know, Mars to them, just to be out of their environment and not having to work and doing something fun all together for a change.

Let's have a drink.


Alcohol was an important part of the day's pleasures for those above and below stairs.

Hello, Mama.

Can I tempt you to one of these new cocktails?

No, I don't think so.

They look too exciting for so early in the evening, don't you think so, Carson?

Better avoided, my lady.

Bruce: Before the American idea of cocktails was introduced to the family upstairs, they never used to drink before dinner.

That's all.

Drinks before dinner?

Wait till Carson catches you.

Yeah, we seem to drink quite a lot.

I love cocktail parties.

Me too.

This is delicious.

I'm so pleased you like it.

Haut-Brion is one of my favorites.

Bruce: The butler would work closely with the cook to find out exactly what was going to be eaten and what would be the best wines to draw from the cellar and prepare for the table.

Mr. Carson likes to serve two white wines, which you should open and decant just before they eat: a light one for the hors d'oeuvres, then a heavier one with the soup.

Keep that going for the fish, and then change to claret, which you should really decant now.

There's a pudding wine, and after that, whatever they want in the drawing room with their coffee.

Blimey, it's a wonder they make it up the stairs.

Bruce: Of course, alcohol is a great danger.

You could accidentally behave in a manner that would let you down.

And if you did, your reputation was of course vulnerable.

♪ ♪

Do you want it?


I wouldn't drink that if I were you, Mr...

Kevin Doyle: He takes a drink from O'Brien.

That slipped down a treat.

I think I'll get another one.

Doyle: Not realizing that it was spiked.

Next minute, you know, he's sort of... he's taken over the dance floor.


That was terrifying.

They do say there's a wild man inside all of us.

If only he would stay inside.

Lady Rose, can I help?

As a treat for his lordship, a London band is coming to play after dinner.

A London band?

That's the berries.

Bruce: When the fun and excitement of London is brought to Downton Abbey...

Man: Is anyone there?

...two very different worlds collide.

I think this is where we're supposed to be.


When Jack Ross comes to Downton Abbey, he's the first black man ever to do so, and he's asked to be comfortable in this room.

I suggested he sit in Carson's chair because this was the throne that all the staff respected, and when Jack sits back and takes the looks of all the maids, he's not aware of that.

But of course he's doing something extraordinary for a house like this.

Carter: It would be outrageous if anybody sat in that chair, but a black American jazz singer, what?

Gary Carr: Jack is not from that world.

You know, this thing of this being Mr. Carson's chair and, you know, "We have a hierarchy here," that didn't apply to them.

They're from the world of jazz, which is a lot more loose and fun.

♪ Fill me with ecstasy ♪
♪ He's sweet just like chocolate candy ♪
♪ And just like honey from bees... ♪

Who is this singer, and how did he get here?

Isn't it rather odd?

No, I think it's fun.

♪ He's just wild about me...♪

Bruce: But there was no loosening of the rules when it came to speaking.

How to speak, when to speak, and what to say were all ruled by social convention.

The people of Downton Abbey had a particular way of speaking.


It was formal, indirect, and kept the emotions in check.

Edith: What's the new Lord Hexham like?

Is he nice?

Peter's all right.

He's not here much, always seems to be in North Africa.

Harry Hadden-Paton: Alastair's reminded us that the way people talk who might be from that position in society nowadays is very different to how it was then.

They sort of hide behind these clipped consonants.

Lady Rose is Lord Fincher's daughter, sir.


The Prince of Wales has spoken about your father's hospitality in Bombay.

Michelle Dockery: There's always been a fine line with Downton.

We never wanted it to be too clipped.

You know, if we were talking like this the whole time, it's alienating for the audience.

King George V (on radio): The greatest pleasure and satisfaction...

Dockery: We had to find a balance so that these people seemed real and not just talking like they did on the radio in the 1920s.

Well, you have heard the voice of His Majesty King George V.

Laura Carmichael: If you look at our royal family, it's a very different way of explaining their emotions, which you know that they have, but it's not the done thing to share that.

We live in a culture now where we're so open-- you know, "Let's talk about it.

"How do you feel?

What do you think?"

People wearing their heart on their sleeves.

You know, that just wasn't the case at the time.

(groans softly)

I wish you'd tell me what's wrong, Bates.

You'll be in no trouble, I only want to help.

I know that, Your Lordship, and I am grateful, truly, but there is nothing I need help with.

Coyle: There are some really lovely, tender, gentle moments, I think, when Lord Grantham gets something off his chest, as we would say now.

The damage cannot be irreparable when a man and a woman love each other as much as you do.

My goodness, that was strong talk for an Englishman.

Hugh Bonneville: There's a sense that Englishmen simply don't talk about relationships to anyone, to men or women, or particularly their wives, probably... that it's just not in their nature to do so.

Alastair Bruce: One place where a specific set of rules governed the way you spoke was the dining room.

Crew: Three cameras turnover, please.

Stand by, and action!

The dining room table was not an arena for debate, but it was a place where the art of good conversation really mattered.

You needed to be proficient in small talk and gossip.

And the one thing you should never do is to enter into any form of argument, least of all with your host.

The English killed King Charles I to create a balance between the throne and parliament.

I didn't kill him personally.

I didn't shoot the imperial family.


Is this what they call a lively exchange of views?

He couldn't help but take the opportunity sitting at a table surrounded by the aristocracy almost to have a go at them and kind of, you know, tell them exactly what he thought.

Was keeping the monarchy a problem?

Would it be a problem for you to be ruled by the German Kaiser?

(glass breaks)

Bruce: A good hostess would know how to keep the atmosphere light.

I would try to keep the conversation bouncing between people at the table and smooth awkward social situations.

Is it true that Irish gardens have more variety than ours?

Edith: Oh yes, don't you remember Lady Duffren's ball at Clandeyboy?

The gardens there were heavenly.

This was a time when what was not said was just as important as what was.

It was a time of subtlety, innuendo, and euphemism.

Speaking bluntly was considered ill-mannered.

I'm afraid Cousin Violet doesn't think it's quite appropriate.

Can we talk about it afterwards?

Are there still forbidden subjects in 1920?

I can't believe this.

I speak of taste rather than law.

What I notice is a very big divide between the English and the Americans, is that the English will say whatever it is that's not what they're thinking, but everybody will know what they're thinking, and the American will say exactly what they're thinking.

You mean you needed the Levinson cash to keep the Crawleys on top?

I'm not sure we'd put it that way.

I'm quite sure we would not.

But I hope you do feel that Mama's fortune has been well spent in shoring up an ancient family.

Well, you gotta spend it on something.

Alastair Bruce: The aristocracy also maintained their stiff upper lip when it came to parenting.

Ah, yes!

Well done, you!


What would my father say?

That you were building a very solid friendship with your granddaughter.

The aristocracy had a very clear idea of how to bring up children.

They should be seen and not heard.

Except, that is, once a day at tea time, when they would be delivered by nanny to the door of the drawing room and go in and spend one hour only with their parents.

(door opens)

Are we too early?

Bring them in, Nanny.

I don't think anyone will mind.

Bruce: They came down, and they had to be dressed in their tidiest clothes, from the nursery where they were having fun into the drawing room, where everything was much more stiff and proper.

(child crying)

And I must go.

Stay and have some dinner, Mama.

You needn't change.

Violet: No, thank you, my dear, but no.

And the great ambition of a child was to be sufficiently well-behaved to have luncheon with the family.

This was an enormous thing to aim for.

One forgets about parenthood.

The on and on-ness of it.

Were you a very involved mother with Robert and Rosamund?

Does it surprise you?

A bit.

I'd imagined them surrounded by nannies and governesses, being starched and ironed to spend an hour with you after tea.

Yes, but it was an hour every day.

It goes back to Victorian parenting.

So although you love your mother, it wasn't a hands-on childhood.

You know, Mama was a distant figure in the drawing room who you saw at the end of the day.

When you talk like that, I'm tempted to ring for Nanny and have you put to bed with no supper.

Bond: Whilst there's love and affection, you know, she remains that matriarch.

And that's fearsome, particularly in the hands of Maggie Smith.

Bruce: We're shooting a scene where Lord Grantham is going for a walk with his grandchildren.

And behind them walk the nanny and the nursery maid.

And you get a real sense of how uneasy the relationship was between a grandfather and his grandchildren, because he hardly ever saw them.

And yet the people who the children are closest to are the nanny and the nursery maid.

They spent all their life with them.

I think it explains a lot of the reticence and the distance and the awkwardness and that sense of suppression or repression of emotion.

Mary: Where's nanny?

Collecting some clothes from laundry.

I said I'd stay with them.

She's so much more relaxed than our nanny ever was.

Bonneville: A strange world, but it's the way that it was for several generations.

The way aristocratic children were brought up often meant that they built strong emotional bonds with their servants.

Can I lick the bowl?

Yes, you can both lick the bowl.

Bruce: For instance, look at the relationship you see between Lady Mary and Carson.

Very often, you might think that she has a closer bond with him than with her own father.


My lady.

I'm sorry to bother you so late, but I think you know why I've come.

Dockery: When she was little, she probably would have been playing and going for walks and, you know, being with Carson much more than she would her own father.

We were very fond of Mr. Crawley, you know, My Lady.

All of us.

I... (sighs)


Jim Carter: These little ones, particularly Lady Mary, the firstborn, were his surrogate children.

You cry, my lady.

You have a good cry.

That's what's needed now.

Carter: And it felt realistic because he would have been, you know, a lifelong bachelor, charming little kids.

And I'd also asked for, you know...

I said, "Can I have a scene with one of the babies?"

(playfully): What's the matter with you?

Carter: Unfortunately, the baby was on major screaming mode at the time, so we didn't actually get out of that as much as I'd hoped.

I thought it'd be quite funny to see this old stickler stuck with a little baby and seeing him melting when they'd all gone out and the nanny wasn't around and him having to look after a baby.

But the scene was a little bit cut because the baby was wailing.


Aristocratic boys were sent away to boarding school at the age of seven, then on to Eton or Harrow at 13, and finally to Oxford and Cambridge.

But for girls, it was very different.

A governess was brought on, and she would make sure that they learnt the finesse they needed to become wives.

This meant learning things like English, French, or the vital business of embroidery.

Miss Bunting's a teacher.

Oh golly, how clever.

What do you teach?

The usual things: writing, mathematics.


Writing's always beyond me, and I wouldn't know where to start with mathematics.

Well, then, you must marry someone rich enough to ensure you never need to.

Bruce: In the 1920s, education gave the working classes a chance to better themselves-- an opportunity to get out of the social position they were born to.

For some at Downton, this was a liberating opportunity.

For others, the idea of social mobility was a threat to the status quo.

It would change everything.

I think it's sharp of Daisy to want to learn to manage figures.

I'm afraid I agree with Mrs. Patmore.

Why does she need to?

She's a cook.

You know, people back then didn't have the choice.

They had to do what was in front of them.

"This is what you will do. This is what your father did, this is what you will do."

What are you studying now, Daisy?

The war of the Spanish succession.

Oh, as a matter of fact, I'm very...

Doyle: And I can remember my own grandfather and father's lives being mapped out in very similar ways.

And so, you know, it's not...

It's within touching distance, that kind of life.

I must be mad, I didn't see the time.

I've left Mrs. Patmore cooking dinner for everyone.

Well, you can tell her from me you'll prove a talented mathematician.

If you did have an education, the sky was the limit.

You could make your own... make your own destiny, as it were.

But it's going to ruffle a few feathers, definitely.

How are your lessons going?

Robert: What's this?

Miss Bunting is giving instruction to Mrs. Patmore's undercook.

Oh yes, I heard about that.

You sound as if you don't approve.

I approve, as long as you're not making her unsettled.

Why don't you send for her?

Bring Daisy in and ask her yourself.

That was a really strange scene to film because I've never had to speak in front of all those people.

And it was really intimidating, but it was good that Alastair reminded me, "This is massive, this is such a big thing. You are terrified."

They've never even probably heard her speak, and then she says...

Miss Bunting here has opened my eyes to a world of knowledge I knew nothing of.

Maybe I'll stay a cook all my life, but I have choices now.

My life's changed because of this woman.

How can this be a bad thing?

And it sort of shuts them all up.

Edith, dear, are you still writing that very interesting column?

Yes, Granny.

Oh, you must show me some of them.

What is the latest one about?

What are they all about?

The way the world is changing.

(clock chiming)

You don't like change, Spratt?

I detest it, Madam.

Yes, well, we all hate change, Spratt, but these days, we have to learn to live with it.

Downton Abbey takes place during the setting sun of the Edwardian era, a time of uncertainty, war, and incredible social change.

The dilemma facing the British aristocracy was how to evolve, how to be modern.

Sometimes I feel like a creature in the wilds whose natural habitat is gradually being destroyed.

Some animals adapt to new surroundings.

It seems a better choice than extinction.

Bonneville: The world of the country estate is coming to an end, and he has got to accept it.

But he's reluctant to do so.

If we don't respect the past, we'll find it harder to build our future.

Violet: Where did you read that?

I made it up.

Bonneville: And in each series, you see Robert being dragged kicking and screaming to accept a sense of change.

Poor Robert.

The post-war world is not being kind to him.

But overall, yes, his values are...

...or his experience of life is slightly backward.

Bruce: The world of Downton Abbey was also being changed by new technology.



Heavens, what a snappy chariot.

(engine revving)

One symbol of change to a modern world came with the throaty roar and oily mess of the motor car.

Aren't you a wild thing?

Oh, it's quite safe.

There's never been a safer method of travel.

Bruce: The motor car changed everything for society in general and for Downton Abbey in particular.

You see, aristocrats had had horses and carriages to carry them wherever they wanted to go, and the arrival of the motor, the combustion engine, meant that all this could change.

It was the most enormous power of modernization.

Who will groan first when they see it, Granny or Papa?

Carmichael: For Edith, the car is very exciting, and I think it shows that she's sort of interested to be a pioneer in a way.

She's not afraid of change, she's excited by it.

I do think I'm getting better, don't you?

Up to a point, m'lady.

If you could just get the clutch right down to the floor.

But I am!

Not quite, m'lady.


The horse and carriage may have been replaced by the motor car, but the old rules still applied.

The footman that used to ride at the back of the carriage would still be there to open the car door for their master.

And when he got in, of course he would still adopt the same position that he always did, on the right hand side.

The man would sit on the right because he could then draw his sword and defend his woman, who would always be on the left, with his sword hand.

Quite difficult in a car.

But of course, it worked very well in a carriage.

Now, the division between above stairs and below stairs was maintained in the car by this wonderful screen, so you could just shut off the chauffeur like that.

And if you need to give him an instruction, you've still got this wonderful voice mechanism.

Turn left here, please.

Another development that came with the motor car was the appointment of a chauffeur.

He was like a groom, but of course he was more than that because he had not a horse to look after, but an engine.

He had the chance too to get to know the family very well because he was driving them all the time.

And very often, this was dangerous because a good-looking chauffeur and the daughter of the house, funny things sometimes happened.

Branson: Will you have your own way, do you think?

With the frock?

Only I couldn't help overhearing yesterday, and from what her ladyship said, it sounded as if you support women's rights.

I suppose I do.

Playing the chauffeur was very interesting because he came in at a time when people were moving on from horses and carriages, so it was new technology and it was kind of uncharted waters, really.

I brought some pamphlets that I thought might interest you.

About the vote.

Thank you.

Bruce: New-fangled domestic appliances were also threatening the way things had always been done.

But if it's electric, aren't you worried it's going to run away with itself and sew your fingers to the table?

I certainly hope not.

We take all those things for granted in the modern world.

It's like gadget after gadget, and things become old within seconds.

But, like, a fridge?

I just don't see why it's better than an ice box.

Well, a refrigerator is more efficient.

It's a mixer.

It beats eggs and whips cream and all sorts.

But you and Ivy do that.

And we'd be glad not to, thank you very much.

The kids are very excited to play with the mixer, and it makes their job easier, of course.

But she-she sees further than that and thinks, "This could replace us."

...don't understand.

What with these toasters and mixers and suchlike, we'll be out of a job.

Bruce: Above stairs, the old guard was also resistant to modern technology.

Why are you so against getting a wireless?

In a way, I wish she'd just say it.

"Cousin Robert, please buy a wireless for Downton."

I wouldn't mind.

That's because you're American, but I'm not, and I find the whole idea a kind of thief of life.

Bonneville: Robert does seem to start with a sense of being stuck in the past.

What do you think, Bates?

I can't see the Dowager with a wireless, m'lady.

It's a fad.

It won't last.

But sometimes, like I think in season five, when the building of property is suggested at Pips Corner, he actually takes the bull by the horns and is far more visionary in his thinking than Mary and Branson were.

I want to explain why I think we should turn down Wavell's offer.

But Papa, some things have to change.


But we mustn't destroy what we're trying to protect.

Bonneville: So I think he's not entirely a dinosaur.

Robert is actually all for evolution, not revolution.

There's no point trampling everything to do with the past for its own sake.

We will build.

We'll even make money for the estate.

But we won't destroy what people love about this place.

The aristocracy had to evolve or die.

How to be modern meant steering the world of Downton Abbey through an enormous amount of social change, whilst at the same time hanging on to the traditions of the past.

And what we've done over the past six seasons is recreate that disappearing world in minute detail.

And that faithful reproduction above and below stairs is perhaps the key to why we all love it so much.

Farewell Downton Abbey