Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shirley Comes to Downton

Despite many an eyebrow being raised - both my own included - at the disappointing quality of the often-shambolic, war torn second series of Downton Abbey last autumn, our friends across the pond cannot seem to be able to get enough of the Abbey. Last week, it was announced that the period drama de jour has been nominated for sixteen Emmy Awards - unprecedented for a British import. This is no mean feat given the extremely stiff competition to be encountered from the likes of Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Homeland, Game of Thrones and the darling of the Emmys, Mad Men.

The third series has been confirmed for September and I feel it my duty to mention that details have emerged about what us millions of devotees can expect - better pacing and characterisation, here's hoping! Beginning in the spring of 1920 and ending at Christmas in 1921, the latest run of eight episodes will feature a marriage, a birth and a death, plots involving the fight for Irish independence, Catholicism and potential financial ruin for the beleaguered Crawleys and the much-anticipated guest appearance of Shirley Mac Laine as Lord Grantham's mother-in-law Martha (pictured above).

The always-entertaining MacLaine recently attended a press conference in Los Angeles with some of her fellow cast members during which Hugh Bonneville revealed a T-shirt bearing the slogan FREE THE DOWNTON ONE much to the delight of his co-star and sometime Mr Bates, Brendan Coyle. Meanwhile, when asked if she had ever met Dame Maggie Smith before filming sparring scenes with her at the start of 2012 for Downton, reincarnation enthusiast MacLaine merely said "We were lovers in a previous life!" Maggie was not available for comment.

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