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Downton Abbey Blu-ray/DVD

Sunday, 06 February 2011 15:03

There is something deeply fascinating about the Edwardian era and the grand old country houses, the lives of the people who lived in them and who worked in them. The idea of the very rich having a vast staff of people who took care of their every whim and fancy and did it all with a bow or a curtsey and were happy and proud to do it may seem like an alien concept to us now but it was an accepted way of life at the turn of the last century.

Downton Abbey is one of these houses, a huge rambling stately pile set in acres of immaculately manicured grounds with a seemingly never ending array of maids and footmen in starched uniforms, valets, grooms, butlers and cooks who bustle about the place and cater for the needs of the Crawley family who employ them. It’s a romantic vision, and with the series out now on Blu-ray and DVD, one that is perfect as a Valentine’s Day gift. Set in the years leading up to the First World War – the first episode opens in 1912 with the Crawley family and their staff waking up to learn of the sinking of the Titanic.

Downton Abbey - Valentines Day gift on Blu-ray or DVDThe Crawley’s have lived at Downton Abbey for many generations but now their future is uncertain because the only male heir has perished beneath the icy waters of the Atlantic.

While upstairs the family deal with such issues as inheritance and finding suitable husbands for their three daughters, downstairs the staff are equally concerned with guarding their position and rank in increasingly troubled times. It seems there are more secrets lurking in corridors, kitchens and pantries than there are in the elegant state rooms and bedrooms. Certainly the back stairs at Downton sees more than its fair share of gossip and cunning plans being hatched as various members of staff plot and speculate about each other and discuss the goings on upstairs.

Downton Abbey was created and written by Academy Award® winner Julian Fellowes famed for “Gosford Park” and “The Young Victoria”. And it is quite simply a gorgeous series – filmed mainly on location at Highclere Castle – it is full of richly decorated rooms, wonderful scenery, where the sun seems to shine all day; polished silver, sparkling crystal glasses and elegant costumes that drip with diamonds and pearls. The performances too are all excellent, but particular praise must go to Maggie Smith (“Harry Potter”, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie), as the Dowager Duchess who is brilliant – she seems to get the best lines in each episode and dominates every scene she’s in without even having to do anything.

Downton Abbey boasts a supporting cast that includes Hugh Bonneville (Lost In Austen, Bonekickers), Maggie Smith Elizabeth McGovern (“Kick Ass”, “The Wings of the Dove”), Penelope Wilton (Harriet Jones, the Prime Minister in Doctor Who), Jim Carter (Captain Brown in Cranford, as well as Déjà Vu in “Top Secret”), Phyllis Logan (Lady Jane Felsham in Lovejoy, “Secrets & Lies”), Joanne Froggatt (Kate in Robin Hood), and Rob James-Collier (Liam Connor in Coronation Street). 

Having taken over ITV1’s Sunday nights with phenomenal rating figures only matched by the critical acclaim heaped upon the series, DOWNTON ABBEY - SERIES 1 is an absolutely essential DVD purchase, especially for those keen to make sure they’re fully up to speed following the recent announcement that the series has been re-commissioned.

Special Features include Audio Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, and two desperately brief featurettes – “The Making of Downton Abbey”, and “A House in History – Downton Abbey”.       

DOWNTON ABBEY - SERIES 1 is available now, courtesy of Universal Playback, and is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift – the set has a running time of 320 minutes approx, a ‘12’ certificate, and comes either as a three DVD set with an RRP of £24.99, or a two Blu-ray disc set with an RRP of £29.99, or get either for less at www.culttvstore.com


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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