I thought I would take a brief break from the travails and triumphs of historical fiction writing to discuss Masterpiece Theatre's new series, Downton Abbey. It starts this Sunday at 9pm, and runs through the end of January. I am so excited.
The series was a smash hit in England, where viewership exceeded 10 million. Apparently it has been the most popular series since Brideshead Revisited aired in the early 80s. It's not based upon a book, but it was written by Julian Fellows (who did Gosford Park), so I'm sure it will be fascinating anyway.
The basic premise is that complexing issue of English entail. The Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) only has a daughter, and so the estate and his title will go to a distant relative after his death. From what I gather, the Dowager Countess (played by the luminous Maggie Smith) and the current Countess (Elizabeth McGovern) scheme to make sure that the estate and the money go to the daughter, instead of this distant relative. He, of course, will inherit title.
I am very interested in this premise since it echoes a plot line in my own novel, and since I have had a lot of trouble researching how a family could disinherit an heir, I will be eagerly taking notes. And drooling over the costumes since it is set in one of my favorite periods--the Edwardian era.
According to Wikipedia, Highclere Castle in Hampshire was used as the Abbey.
For more information on the series, as well as some juicy previews, visit the Masterpiece Theatre website. And steer clear of the fan site, I just accidently read a major spoiler. Grrr....