Monday, 26 September 2011

Why I Watch Downton Abbey

The Dowager Duchess of Grantham
...and it is not because of the pious sounding name! I was not looking for a prayer based sojourn with the likes of Sister Wendy and Roger Royle, so there has be another reason.

Those nearest and dearest to me know how I feel about costume dramas. I typically find them prissy, self-important and performed by a breed of actor that normally irritates me no end (I am aware that some would have similar opinions of the costume-drama of Anglo-Catholic liturgy, ironically). With the exception of dramas based on historical events (The Tudors, Charles II with Rufus Sewell, Henry VIII with Ray Winstone, Blackadder) and anything with Natalie Dormer in it, I just don't like period dramas. No!

The thing is, I have rather taken to Downton Abbey, a story about the current residents of a very nice pile in Berkshire - the jolly decent but wholly benign Lord Grantham, the malevolent crone played excellently by Dame Maggie Smith and the whole "upstairs, downstairs" thing. I rather like it. I even look forward to it. Yes. 

How has this happened? 

I'll tell you how. Gladiator TV. 

With the exception of Downton Abbey, Soap Operas, the News, Top Gear and Adam's flippin Farm - the only other television available to the British public falls under the heading I like to call "Gladiator TV". The format is very simple:

 - Take a group of unknown but zany people/all-but-forgotten former celebrities
 - Give them a task [singing, dancing, ice-skating, bug-eating, self-flagellation, a time in a camera decked glass domicile]
 - Let us, the willing public, weed them out week by week for a measly £1.03 per call (mobile tariffs may vary) as they compete against one another and outrageous fortune
 - Observe their breakdowns and gel-underwritten hairdos
 - Note, with alarming frequency, how much it 'means everything' to them, or is 'the most important thing in the world' to them (forgetting of course the fruits of their loins who must once have been important)
 - Subsidise Simon Cowell's personal ownership of Earth
 - Forget who won after a fortnight (mostly because the next spectacle has begun or because the individual/group that Lord Cowell favoured got the Golden Goose anyway, sod the winner)

After a hard day working the land, a man needs to relax in front of his television - I should know! (I have only the right to speak for men, and I am sure that ladies work hard too). The thing is, if you find an overwhelming distaste for Gladiator TV the only avenue open to you is simple: you have to like Downton Abbey or simply burn the TV in a fit of commercialist sacrificing on ones primped lawn. It's a simple fact that  for people like me, it is adapt or die! 


  1. And there was me thinking it was because you wanted to know more about my family ;)

  2. There's always Spooks on the other side.

  3. Don't be such a wimp! Admit it. You're hooked.
    You watched the 1st series and now you can't wait to see what happens to the fascinating mix of up and downstairs characters.
    I also loath celebrity this and that, let's dance, swim, ice-skate as badly as possible type shows, but have the grace to admit that some TV dramas while not necessarily first-rate literature, are well acted, well presented and worth spending the odd hour a week watching.
    Whoops, just sprained my wrist trying to pat myself on the back!

  4. Very good Alan - like it! To be sure, you have aged well :)

    Phil - my wife had kept that from me, and her zeal for the Drama that is Costume exceeds mine for oxygen. It's a cloth cutting exercise I think!

    Ray Ray Ray Ray Ray - Wimp: moi?

  5. I have all the series of Spooks on DVD. For a small fee you can borrow next time Mrs. Acular goes on retreat (and who would blame her?).

  6. you have to like Downton Abbey or simply burn the TV in a fit of commercialist sacrificing on ones primped lawn."

    Hmm, this could a problem for me, as I don't have a lawn. Luckily, I like Downton Abbey.



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