Downton Abbey: Little-known details of the famous British series and its new sequel


The plot of the six seasons of the Downton Abbey series is not exactly based on historical figures, but the characters were definitely inspired by a mixture of people who did exist in real life at that time in the British elite. In “The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era,” the companion book to the television show, series creator Julian Fellowes revealed how he drew inspiration from his own experiences in creating some of the characters in this magnificent production.

Between 1912 and 1926 the Downton Abbey thread is located and according to Fellowes, in the prologue of this work he highlights that: “My impressive, although tyrannical, great-aunt, Isie, [is] the main model of Violet Grantham (Maggie Smith) , a woman whose dry wit hid a great deal of personal suffering and who was no tougher on the rest of us than she was herself.”

There the creator of Downton Abbey said that the protagonist Robert Crawley, who is the Earl of Grantham, played by Hugh Bonneville, was based a bit on his own father, whom he described as “a deeply moral man, he was always determined to do what right, but never questioning the structure of his own social universe.” Fellowes’s father, like Robert, strove to do his duty and, also like Robert, thought that if it was God’s will for you to be rich, ” then He would make sure you had an inheritance left.”

Meanwhile, to create the character of the maid Sarah O’Brien played by the English actress Siobhan Finneran in the first seasons, the author says he was inspired by the scheming maid of his grandfather’s cousin and rudely described her “had a black heart cold and manipulative…but my aunt never saw it.” He also explained that the character of Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) was inspired by a costume designer Fellowes met during his theatrical career, for Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) he looked at the characteristics of his godfather’s wife, and that Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) is very similar in character to his own wife and also to his “indomitable mother.”

Everything that happens in “Downton” has to do with real events, but not in a direct way. In his story, he recounts momentous events, from the sinking of the Titanic to World War I and the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, as universal references. Likewise, it highlights some little-known real events in its plot, unless fans are also passionate about history and perhaps recognize the Teapot Dome scandal or the Beer Hall Putsch, for example.

As for Downton Abbey: A New Era, it is a sequel to the series and the 2019 film Downton Abbey, it was released in the United Kingdom on April 29, 2022 by Universal Pictures and is scheduled to debut in the United States on May 20 on Focus Features.

For those who have not yet seen the series and decide to watch the film Downton Abbey: A New Era, understand that its universe basically portrays the decline of the British aristocracy in real life and deals with the great social changes that took place in the years after the First World War. While the characters and events of the show are not based on any specific true stories, they are heavily inspired by various true stories that real people dealt with during those years.