Press Tour: ‘Downton Abbey’ Live-Blog makes us wish it was 2014

08.06.13 4 years ago


January seems a long way away, especially when American fans of “Downton Abbey” realize they’ll have to wait until then to see season four. Luckily, PBS brought some of the stars — Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), Joanne Froggatt, (Anna Bates), Phyllis Logan, (Mrs. Hughes), Sophie McShera, (Daisy Mason) as well as executive producer Gareth Neame and series executive producer of “Masterpiece” Rebecca Eaton — to talk to press tour attendees about the show and what fans might want to expect. I’ll be live blogging the most likely very polite conversation. 

6:50 p.m. PT Here’s Rebecca Eaton! She’s the warm-up act. Sort of. But there are announcements. Five beautiful women plus Naeme. She said that, not me. And she said they’re wearing good outfits, if you are concerned about that sort of thing. Ratings are up 33 percent for “Masterpiece” thanks to “Downton.”

6:53 p.m. “The Lady Vanishes,” “Foyle’s War” and “The Paradise” are also on “Masterpiece,” if you were wondering. It’s not all “Downton” all the time! Now we are watching a bit of “The Paradise.” It premieres Oct. 6 and is 8 hours long. If you like “Downton,” you’ll probably like this.

6:55 p.m. Some non-“Downton” stuff. A project starring Jack Davenport called “Breathless.” He’s an ob/gyn! “You can imagine the rest.” Rebecca Eaton said that, not me. “Death Comes to Pemberley,” which will cover what happens after Elizabeth marries Mr. Darcy. Darcy will be played by Matthew Rhys from “The Americans.” Mr. Wickham will be played by Matthew Goode. Jenna Coleman (“Doctor Who”) is also in this. Turn on your PBS!

These women look amazing and are almost unrecognizable, in a good way. 

6:58 p.m. FOOTAGE! Will fill this in later! Whoot! Okay, Mary is feeling defeated. Throws a napkin, which is probably a HUGE fit by Downton standards. Robert wants to curl Mary into a blanket, but Violet wants to get her out into the world. Tom is the agent — and Violet wants Tom to teach her how the house is run. Tom seems shocked, and so does Mary. Rose wants Anna to take her to a big shindig in the town, so she’s still a spitfire. Mr. Carson tells Mary to choose life. Lady Edith’s editor/boyfriend is considering taking German citizenship so he can run off with Edith. Scandalous!

7:10 p.m. Mary will be grappling with grief, according to Dockery. But she’ll also have love interests, “more than one,”  according to her. “[Thomas Cullen plays] an old family friend… she hasn’t seen him since she was tiny. She’s slowly coming back to real life, and of course it’s important for her to move on. 

7:13 p.m. Lots of questions! As for Edith, “She is still involved with the paper… It’s complicated,” says Carmichael. “She hasn’t seen Michael for some time, so when we come back to the house, she’s seeing him for the first time [in a while]. We know she’s been writing about the soldiers, but it’s modern. I like to think of her as the Carrie Bradshaw of the ’20s.”

“Here I am sitting next to this beautiful young woman…I think she becomes more active and dynamic in the series ahead,” Neame says of Edith/Carmichael. 

Dockery on Dan Stevens’ exit: “My first reaction was, oh crap. Where can the story go now? We’ve spent all this time having this on-off, will they-won’t they relationship. As much as it was sad to see Dan go, as it was to see Jessica go, it opens up opportunity. Not only for Mary, but other characters.”

7:16 p.m. Mary as a mom, according to Dockery: “In the aristocracy, they didn’t really see their kids very much. So you don’t see much interaction between the baby and Mary, and initially it’s hard to bond with the baby because she’s grieving. It’s a slow process with Mary and motherhood.”

7:17 p.m. What hasn’t changed about Daisy? “Her outfit,” McShera said. Her character is growing up, but she’s still a teen dealing with teen-type things. By the way? On the show, you can’t see that McShera has a banging good figure. Truly a knockout. 

7:19 p.m. Naeme feels we’ve all had time to deal with the death of Matthew, and the show will have time pass as well. 

7:20 p.m. Do they follow themselves or the show on Twitter? Froggatt is a technophobe. Dockery occasionally thinks she should go on Twitter. “It turns out Lady Mary’s Eyebrow has beat me to it. There’s an actual page!”

7:21 p.m. Dockery isn’t leaving “Downton” like, ever. “We can do other things in between [seasons]. As far as we know, we’re all doing series five next year. Beyond that, we don’t know. That’s in the hand of Julian Fellowes. I think if other actors leave, that would be a worry. As long as it remains an ensemble… we’ll see.” Naeme says actors have half the year to do other stuff. 

7:23 p.m. What’s ahead for Thomas? “I’ve heard rumors that O’Brien might be heading for the hills… but it will all be that core things of wanting to have [control],” Graeme said.

7:24 p.m. What will the mood of this season be? Super gloomy? Not exactly. “I think it feels more like the ’20s. Edith goes to London a lot and we see the streets of London and Rose is another bright young thing who’s having a lot of fun at Downton. Amongst the mourning there’s escape for some of the characters,” Carmichael says. Naeme says we’re well into the era where old things are cast aside and these houses are “crumbling or in threat.” This is going to be “the dying of the light — this world is coming to an end. There is going to be a big change for Mary and this is the end of an age. This will be about how all of these characters carry on.”

7:26 p.m. A number of new characters! There are some “eligible bachelors that look to find a relationship with Downton.” Naeme says. Gary Carr will be playing a jazz singer. A famous opera singer will play an opera singer. Paul Giamatti will be in the house, as we know. 

7:28 p.m. “Julian writes really well for women,” Froggatt says of the strong female cast. 

7:29 p.m. “These girls are half American,” Naeme says. “I think it would be quite normal for their relatives to visit. This time Martha, she comes back with Cora’s half-brother, played by Paul Giamatti.”

7:31 p.m. Logan talks about how lucky everyone at Downton is not to have suffered much during the war – – which makes McShera joke [since Daisy was widowed], “You’re so insensitive!”

7:35 p.m. The panel talks about the expert they have to guide them on the little details. “There’s things like that always surprise me. Like Edith says, can you imagine being allowed to eat in a restaurant before the war? That was so risque,” Froggatt says.

7:36 p.m. Naeme says, “I’d love to see George fighting the Second World War!” But he’s not really serious. “Julian always says I don’t want to see our actors with walking sticks and powder in our hair, so I don’t think we’ll go to [WWII]. Also, King Tut won’t be part of the storyline, even though it could have been given the timeline. Suffrage? “We haven’t got there yet. Definitely that’s a big part of what’s coming up,” Naeme says. 

7:39 p.m. Logan on Mrs. Hughes: “It’s lovely to think, I think she’s a bit of a busy body, masquerading as a standard nice woman. She’s into everything! But she does show her compassion for the underdog.” Naeme says he thinks Anna is the beating heart of the show. “Anna just seems to be, no matter what happens to her… she’s the character I’d most like to have as a friend.” Froggatt adds that Anna could grow up to be like Mrs. Hughes.

7:41 p.m. On the cancer scare front, Logan wants to clarify. “I don’t have cancer. I don’t think there’s going to be a recurrence. People were concerned and thought that, because Mrs. Hughes is a bit more forward thinking, she might not have mentioned that if she was a different kind of person. It brought Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes together when they realized they’re women of a certain age… and let’s be allies and not rivals.” And that led to the reveal that Mr. Carson “fancies the pants off her.”

7:42 p.m. How long will the show last? Naeme says, “Fourth season is in extremely good health. Our minds are on the fifth season. I think the show has a lot further to go. I hope we will make it, and we hope to make a show people around the world love.” Easton adds that it is a mystery — and no one, even Julian Fellowes, has no idea how long it will last. 

7:45 p.m. Mary and Tom? Friends, but not a couple. “They are very much friends, and he is her brother-in-law still. They become close because of what they both went through, and Mary becomes much more involved in the running of the estate. But romantically, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I hope not.”

7:46 p.m. Naeme talks about a scene with the three widows, including Isobel, all reflecting on their great, deep loves. 

7:47 p.m. The black character, Naeme says, had to wait until season 4 to be true to the times. “A bit like the 60s, they didn’t start in 1961, so we couldn’t say yay, it’s 1921, let’s all shorten our skirts and go dancing. But now we’re into the 20s. It’s very early jazz, and a lot of these performers traveled to Europe… it’s changing music and entertainment and all of these things… it’s all part of the modernization of the world of Downton. 

That’s it! Now to see if I can chase down one of the stars before they leave, very very politely…

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