Someone (sorry I can’t rememer your name *blush*) asked for a translation of the Danish article, and here it is. It’s mostly accurate to what it said, but some words didn’t quite had the same meaning in English as they were meant to have, so I used words that would make the most sense.
BILLED-BLADET on location in Bampton, England.
A Day With Downton.
While the 5th season of the successfully acclaimed show “Downton Abbey” is currently running on DR1, filming for the 6th season is in full swing in England. In the village Bampton BILLED-BLADET came close to the worlds most famous Lords, Ladies, and servants.
“Good morning to you!” Mr. Carson greets cheerfully with his well-known deep voice, and when the bear sized butler walks by with a smile and a courteous nod - yes, then it’s making BILLED-BLADET’s journalist feel like a true lady.
Others clearly feel the same. “Oh my goodness, we’re so lucky”, nearly gasp several of the female fans, who on a completely regular Monday morning have landed in the middle of “Downton Abbey” land.
We’re in the little English village Bampton. A village, which has been put on the world map thanks to the most successful, historical TV show “Downton Abbey”, which takes place in the 1920s and is now airing on DR1.
Bampton happens to portray the fictional village Downton, so here in the village - 30 kilometers from Oxford - the scenes are filmed which aren’t taking place in the yellow castle.
And what a village! Beautiful old houses lie brick by brick in small alleys, and behind the oblique roofs the spectacular church appears. The church, where Lady Mary as we know married her beloved Matthew, and from where she later had to bury him.
Today the whole team is back at the church to film new scenes.
The actors arrive on set from 9am. Some in minibusses, others in cars but all with a chauffeur. Spirits are high, and wearing costumes Lords, Ladies, and servants take the time to greet their fans.
“Are you really from Denmark? Lovely!” says Mrs. Patmore and Daisy to BILLED-BLADET before they appreciatively mention the Danish TV show “Forbrydelsen” which abroad has been a hit by the name “The Killing”.
Mrs. Hughes notices that a handful of American women from Iowa are wearing floral hats, and Lady Cora’s smiling widely underneath hers. When the actresses are receiving compliments for their vintage dresses, under-butler Thomas Barrow is making everyone break out in laughter when feeling wronged he gesticulates and jokes: “What about me? Don’t I look fine, too?”
And yes, the gentlemen look sharp on a day where it’s obvious, how big “Downton Abbey” really has become.
The actors are greeted in the streets with the names, they have on the show - and they respond to them with the greatest naturalness: Mrs. Crawley, Mr. Bates, Lady Mary etc.
Only the 80 year old legendary Maggie Smith compels a respect, which means that she’s greeted by her real name by the fans. One fan even used Maggie’s distinguished title, Dame.
Most of the scenes in “Downton Abbey” are filmed at Highclere Castle or at Ealing Studios in London, but about 3 times every season the team moves to Bampton for a couple of days to film the scenes from the village.
It’s only here that it’s possible to get real close to the actors, and it’s clear that the cast enjoys being out in the open in the countryside. They can move about relatively undisturbed here, and after work’s over explore the area’s pubs.
The sports ground in the village is turned into a trailer park, worthy of a Hollywood movie. Bampton’s inhabitants of about 2,500 people grow considerably in the days the “Downton” visit lasts, as 120 people are involved in the shooting when it takes place out of town.
After the morning briefing the heavy equipment is moved to the square in front of the church. Big floodlight projectors supply the light and thick cabels lie around in the grass out of view from the cameras.
The day before some of the scheduled scenes had to be interrupted due to heavy winds and pouring rain - which is quite typical for England. But today the sun is shining and the birds’ merrily chirping is bringing out the idyllic feeling of the village.
We’re halfway through season 5 of the show on Danish TV, and the next season doesn’t premiere until the fall in Great Britain.
Out of respect for the plot BILLED-BLADET naturally won’t reveal the content of today’s filming - but producer Chris Croucher promises that “the new season will be filled with juicy and intense storylines and lots of drama”.
While a couple of fat pigeons have to be chased off the grass before the first scene of the day, he explains that the entire crew has a very special bond to the village.
“Bampton is simply perfect for "Downton Abbey”. Right here where we stand, we can film 360 degrees around without filming anything modern. And the buildings are exceptionally well-preserved. We simply said “wauw” when a friend of the production, who lives here, suggested that we come by and look at Bampton. We looked at a lot of villages,“ says Chris Coucher, telling how the village’s inhabitants welcomed them with open arms.
"The locals have been absolutely amazing. They get involved, and they’ll gladly move their cars from where they normally park them, when we invade the village.
Just a couple of weeks ago it was announced that the 6th season of "Downton Abbey” will be the last. According to the producer both cast and crew are affected by a special feeling during this particular visit to Bampton.
“This is my first interview where I actually know that we’re now filming the last season. It feels a bit sad. I think the amazing thing about "Downton” is, it’s a show about a family - made by a family. Most of us have worked our butts off together in all 6 seasons, and we’ve made some wonderful friendships. None of us have been able to imagine the success the show has gotten, and when we finish in August it’ll be sad. But at the same time it’s exciting to be able to finish telling the story", says Croucher.
Today a part of Bampton’s inhabitants take part in that very work. Most of the extras on the show are locals, who put on costumes and fill the set with life, so that the actors’ performances are believable.
They blend in nicely with the cast and inbetween takes the conversation go in all directions. During lunch the cast is even accommodated privately in the house next to the church, where they’re served a warm chicken dish and warm apple pie in the livingroom.
“We’ve gotten to know each other through the years,” says Mark Ellis, who’s location manager on “Downton Abbey”.
“Bampton is so British in spirit. Everyone is so friendly. We’re the ones, who come barging in, and the locals here have a life and a job to take care of, so we’re very grateful for the cooperation,” he says and adds:
“When we come back in the summer, we’ll throw a big thank-you party for the village’s inhabitants, who have now put up with us for years. A delicious barbeque. Then we can say a proper goodbye to each other. It’ll be a lovely "Downton” event!“
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On a long day of filming a thermos mug - and a good laugh - are necessary. Sophie McShera (left) plays kitchen maid Daisy, and she’s in good company with Joanne Froggatt, who a few months ago won a Golden Globe for her role as Anna Bates in "Downton Abbey”.
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Do you recognize the church where Lady Mary got married to her Matthew? It was built in 1153 and is in the heart of Bampton, where new scenes are being filmed today. Two veteran cars, a Bentley and a Sunbeam, help the scenery along.
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Mr. Carson is called Jim Carter in real life, and he’s just as good-natured as you could imagine. The 66 year old Brit, who entertains his colleagues with a magic number or two during breaks, has previously brought his actress wife Imelda Staunton to the set in Bampton.
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Mrs. Patmore looks just as considerate as on TV and asks, where people are from when she gets her coffee.
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Enjoying life in the country.
Mr. Bates is the limping man with the cane in “Downton Abbey”, but in Bampton Brendan Coyle walks at a brisk pace and phone in hand. The big screens behind him have been put up, so that it’s not possible to take any revealing pictures of the scenes.
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Legendary Dame Maggie Smith has turned 80 years old, but is still going strong. As the only one of the actors, she looks away when the cameras are on her off set.
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Time for lunch. With the paper under her arm Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery, and Lady Edith aka Laura Carmichael, walk into the former rectory where the front is the home of Mrs. Crawley and where the actors gather for lunch. The two ladies have become friends during filming.
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It has to be said that the Dowager’s butler Spratt is pretty introverted on “Downton”, but away from the rolling cameras Jeremy Swift doesn’t restrain himself from joking around.
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The heavy TV equipment has invaded Bampton. Several times a drone is put into the air to film from above.
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“It’s great to be back in Bampton,” says under-butler Thomas Barrow aka Rob James-Collier. When he’s in the village he has to visit the local butcher, where he’s acquired a taste for the prize winning sausage, Bampton Royals.
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A scarf protects the hair on Mrs. Hughes, who’s also put on one of the coats from the wardrobe department in the unpredictable spring weather. The man behind her is a new member of the cast.
We’ll have a thank-you party.
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Were it not for the cars, you’d feel like you were back 100 years in Bampton. The night before filming takes place, the streets are cleared of any modern vehicles. Some modern street signs have to be removed. The same goes for some of the doors…
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The fans get their pictures and a couple of words from Mrs. Patmore played by Lesley Nicol, and Mrs. Hughes aka Phyllis Logan. Note that the latter has her own bag with her name on it.
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“Do you pay to be shown around? I can easily tell you things,” says Rob James-Collier to the fans in front of the church. Unlike his calculated character on “Downton” he is clearly a jokester spreading joy. He was also the one to make Catherine, the Duchess, splutter with laughter when she visited the set last month.
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A look inside the church where among other Lady Mary was married - and Lady Edith was jilted at her own wedding! Filming inside is scheduled by how the weather forecast will look.
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Wearing red winter boots and tinted glasses spirits are high with the newest member of the TV-family, Sue Johnston. She plays Maggie Smith’s lady’s maid, Denker.
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From Bampton to Downton.
It doesn’t take much work with a screwdriver to turn Bampton into Downton - and vice versa. The town’s original old stone houses and the church are the perfect set, and only a few imperfections disturb the image but can easily be fixed. St. Mary’s Church is with a new sign turned into the show’s church St. Michael’s and All Angels. The sign in the square in front of the church is camouflaged using a bench, the library is turned into the hospital by putting up a sign, and a trash can for throwing out litter from a dog gets covered to look like a mail box! All is then set to film in the old village centre. And when the last scene is filmed, Bampton is quickly turned back into its old self.