A cup of tea, a piece of toast, a pair of slippers and an intravenous fix of class A period drama. For millions of us, Downton Abbey is the only answer to the depressing back-to-work Sunday night vibe. The parties are over, the whisky is back in the cupboard and a bit of period drama porn is the only thing left to keep us going. But for some viewers, whilst DA may be gentile, engrossing and beautifully crafted it is also historically inaccurate.
Writer Julian Fellowes lost his rag during the first series when viewers insisted on pointing out all his mistakes, claiming that people who point out inaccuracies are âsocially insecureâ?. Historian and broadcaster, A.N. Wilson, called it a ‘fantasy’ portrayal of Edwardian country house life. His exact words were far more amusing, according to Wilson it is all âb*******, basicallyâ?.
Fellowes has since apologised to his eagle-eyed fans (but probably not Wilson). But here at OTB, we enjoy rubbing salt into wounds, however crusty they are. So here is our top 10 list of Downton clangers, dropped by Fellowes and dutifully observed by viewers.
10. Hitting a bum note
In one episode, ‘After You’ve Gone’ on is played masterfully on the piano. A beautiful song, a great pianist, but unfortunately it wasn’t written till 1918! Oops.
9. A very big house in the country
The house is massive, right? And there are how many servants? Surely, some viewers have insisted, surely…there would have been more servants. Either that or they must don roller skates so as to clean all the rooms efficiently. And that would open a whole other can of worms.
8. Bad signs
One episode showed panned back to show a wide view of a quaint street, quiet pedestrians shuffling about, cars pootling around and…a one-way sign with bold black lettering. Wha?!
7. Foul service
Some disgruntled viewers have noticed that butlers and footmen would not be wearing white tie, as Rob James Collier is here. This could be the point at which we all just take a deep breath and enjoy the programme or just go out and enjoy oneself.
6. Date with disaster
The series begins with the untimely death of the heir of Downton Abbey. And characters claim that they were in mourning until September…but it was made clear that September was reached in episode one. So why is it so darn sunny all the time â it was obviously not October now was it?
5. Relationship trouble
The servantsâ use of the word boyfriend has been identified as rather inappropriate by some language-lovers. Apparently, the use of the word ‘boyfriend’ did not appear until 1933, in The Times as the name of a racehorse. It did not appear again until 1955. Highly unlikely servants would have been banding it around, even in a posh joint like Downton.
4. Bad reception
The appearance of a TV aerial caused outrage amongst some eagle-eyed viewers. The TV was not first demonstrated properly until 1926 and it was most certainly not available in homes until a few years after that…improving signal was definitely not a priority in 1912.
3. Car crash TV
The car pictured below is a Ford Model T. It certainly looks the part as it bumbles along the village lanes. But unfortunately for Fellows and his fellow producers, it is the 1921 model according to internet afficionados. With series one set in 1912, rather a glaring error dontcha think?
2. Pane in the glass
PVC conservatories? In 1912? I donât think so Mr Fellowes!
1. Double yellaâ
As far as we are aware, horses could not be issued with parking tickets. There were no âhorse wardensâ. And considering that in the early 20th century there was a grand total of about 9, 000 drivers on the roads – parking spaces were probably not an issue.
As this clip shows cars were hardly a major concern for the time-pressed traveller
No matter how hard we try to pick out the flaws in this, the darling of modern- day British drama, nobody can take the p*** like a bunch of off-duty TV comedians:
Some pictures courtesy of The Daily Mail