Downton Abbey film - Trivia, Easter eggs and fun facts you didn’t know about the Julian Fellowes movie

We reveal nine things you might not have known about the film adaptation of the TV series starring Michelle Dockery, Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.

By Sophia Moir Published: 8 June 2020 - 3.55pm

Watch Downton Abbey on Sky Cinema with NOW TV from Friday, June 26.

You’re invited to Downton Abbey!

The Downton Abbey film, written by Julian Fellowes - creator of the original ITV period drama series - reunites the original cast including Michelle Dockery, Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.

Directed by Michael Engler (Sex and the City, 30 Rock), the movie is set in 1927 and continues the story of the Crawleys and their household as they prepare for a royal visit.

Indeed the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary will unleash scandal, romance and intrigue that will leave the future of Downton hanging in the balance. 

Here, we reveal fun trivia, hidden Easter eggs and surprising facts about the film that you might not have known, ahead of its return to Sky Cinema with NOW TV...

Downton Abbey film 2019 Focus Features LLC and Perfect Universe Investment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

1. Downton’s historical advisor is back...

Alastair Bruce, who was the historical advisor on the Downton Abbey TV series throughout its six seasons, returned to work on the film. He ensured period protocol was followed to the letter and was the go-to resource for the actors any time they had a question about British aristocracy at the time, according to Best Life.

2. Maggie Smith’s costumes were the most challenging - and expensive!

Anna Robbins, the costume designer from both the film and TV show, told InStyle that the costumes of Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, took the most time to put together because of the "complexity of their [Edwardian] construction". Aunt Violet's jewels were the priciest too - her Victorian-era crown totals 16.5 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds, according to Fashionista.com.

3. The world of Downton was expanded for the film

We return once again to Highclere Castle, which stood in for Downton in the TV series, but the filmmakers also created new sets for the film. Architectural Digest reports that a bedroom for Imelda Staunton’s character, a wine cellar, a silver room, a servery, expanded servants' quarters, the interior of Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes's cottage, and numerous businesses in the village, were all created for the movie.

Downton Abbey film 2019 Focus Features LLC and Perfect Universe Investment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

4. It was a mini-Harry Potter reunion on set

Imelda Staunton joins the Downton Abbey cast as Lady Maud Bagshaw, a relative of the Crawley family with connections to the Queen. But many fans with recognise her as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films, where she starred alongside Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall (who’s Downton Abbey‘s Dowager Countess).

5. Speaking of Imelda Staunton…

She’s married to Jim Carter (who plays Mr Carson) in real life. The couple married in 1983 and have one daughter, Bessie, born in 1993.

6. There’s an Easter egg from season 3 of the show

Mr Bakewell - played by Mark Addy - appears as the greengrocer in the film. He’s referenced in Downton season 3, when Ethel, the former housemaid at Downton who became pregnant, gets upset that Mrs Bakewell had refused to serve her, but Mr Bakewell did so reluctantly. 

7. The film’s storyline was based on a real-life event

According to IMDB, the royal visit of George V to Downton Abbey was based on his real-life visit to Wentworth Woodhouse, a mansion in Yorkshire. Wentworth Woodhouse was actually used in this movie for the ballroom scenes at Harewood House.

Downton Abbey film 2019 Focus Features LLC and Perfect Universe Investment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

8. All the main characters are back - almost...

Lily James, who played Lady Rose, doesn’t appear in the film as her character moved to New York in the show. Lily explained to People.com: “It would be farfetched to bring her back. I would have loved to have come back for a scene, but for a movie it can’t be like a Christmas special and it needs to be a focused storyline.” Samantha Bond’s Lady Rosamund is also missing from the story as the team wanted the movie to focus on the main characters at Downton.

9. A sequel to the film is already in the works

Producer Gareth Neame sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss a second Downton Abbey film. He explained: "We're working on what the story is, and when we might be able to make it. But it's the same as the first time around: We have to try to get everyone back together again. And that was very challenging.”

 

Watch Downton Abbey on Sky Cinema with NOW TV from Friday, June 26.

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