Lady Mary being silly? The Dowager Countess with her elbows on the
table? Thomas taking selfies with friends?
See Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith,
Robert James Collier, and all the actors and actresses of Downton Abbey
behaving completely out of character, cutting loose, hamming it up, palling
around, and generally loving their work and their castmates.
Relive Edith’s happily-ever-after in the Edith & Bertie
Wedding Album slideshow, featuring memorable pictures of their big day. Then
toast the bride and groom and the happy ending Edith so richly deserves!
There was even more conversation, however, about what Hughes would wear for the wedding. While it was decided early on that she would end up borrowing something from Lady Mary or Cora, the actresses’ varying sizes, shapes, and heights meant that it wouldn’t have seemed realistic for Hughes to wear one of the upstairs women’s dresses.
“Whilst [Hughes actress] Phyllis [Logan] is very slim, she’s not anything like as tall as Michelle [Dockery] or Elizabeth [McGovern]. It was Anna [Mary Scott Robbins] our costume designer, who came up with the idea of her wearing a coat—since then it would be much easier for us to change the length of, so actually Julian [Fellowes] wrote that detail in after our conversation.” The coat that she ended up wearing, Trubridge told us, was “velvet with a vintage length of appliqué-d 20s lace with silk handmade flowers and pearl beading.”
If there was one scene more gratifying than the wedding, though, it may have been the moment in which Hughes stands up to her employers about what she wants on her wedding day—politely but firmly shutting down their own suggestions in favor of her wishes. It was one of the only times in the show’s history that we’ve seen a downstairs character rebuff an upstairs character (while in their domain, no less), and filming the scene was surprisingly just as uncomfortable for the actors as it was the characters.
“It was really interesting filming that, because we were at Highclere in the drawing room, and Molesley was there as the footman serving them, and [actor] Kevin [Doyle, who plays Molesley] was saying how uncomfortable he felt being in the room. He said, ‘It’s extraordinary how difficult it is for me to be here while Hughes is being put through her paces like this.’ He kept looking away and wanting to back out but, knowing he couldn’t and we were cheering her on. It was quite something.”
Apparently that particular discomfort was not singular to this scene, though.
“One of the things the cast used to say is that whenever they were taken out of their usual setting, like if Mrs. Patmore came upstairs to the library to see Robert or, on this occasion, Mrs. Hughes came up, it would make them feel odd because they weren’t in their normal working location. They said they felt slightly nervous and out of place.”
By the time the actors moved on to film the wedding and reception, though, their nerves had dissipated.
“We do have a great time doing those wedding scenes, because all the cast gets to be there, and they’re not always together of course,” explained Trubridge. “Between takes, they go off and there’s a very lovely area in the house where they just sit and they chat. It’s good fun.”
The final season of Downton Abbey airs on Masterpiece on PBS on Sundays through March 6.In one of the most joyous episodes of Downton Abbey’s six-season run, Carson and Hughes—the estate’s trusty mother and father figureheads—were wedded in a sweet ceremony that felt like as much of a treat for audience members as it did for the downstairs characters celebrated. Since the nuptials featured two of the drama’s most beloved personalities, and because the wedding could have very well been the series’ last, Downton Abbey producer Liz Trubridge told us last week by phone how the cast and crew took extra care to make the vows special.
“The director actually put in some extra beats in the episode about the preparation for the wedding,” Trubridge said of building anticipation for the vows. While episodes usually flit from ensemble character to character, producers were happy to linger extra long on Carson and Hughes on, and leading up to, their happy day. “We showed the gardener going and cutting some flowers and just little things like that that could really build up the moment and make it ours, because I think we along with everyone else wanted Carson and Mrs. Hughes to finally get together. We added little bits of visuals to help all that along.”
Producers, who take great pride in Downton Abbey’s historical accuracy, also researched servant-class weddings of the 1920s era.
“We were surprised at just how lavish [they] were,” said Trubridge. “It made us laugh because they were very lavish and very carb heavy. There was lots of pies, breads, potatoes, and jellies—obviously because they were cheaper. Of course we don’t actually see the characters eating them [in the episode], which I think the actors were very pleased about, because there were some sprays we had to apply to make the food look a certain way, and it was pretty heavy stuff to be eating all day. But it still looked marvelous, placed on those high display plates.”
Asked if they took any factual liberties with the storyline, Trubridge told us, “Not really. We had a lot of it scripted about the fact that Carson isn’t even aware he needs an usher and the footman.” Another fact-based wedding detail: “Button holes were actually slightly larger for the servants than they would have been for the upstairs people, and that was just a little note that I hadn’t realized at all, but that we discovered and used in the story. Upstairs people would tend to have much smaller buttonholes, and because of that would just have a smaller rose head in their lapel than the servants.”
Some classic advice from Mrs. Patmore, an aphorism—and an
accusation!—from the Dowager Countess, and long-awaited affirmations for
Molesley and Edith. Get a recap of all of Episode 7’s drama through the
funniest and most moving quotes.
It’s been two months since Downton Abbey closed its doors
for the final time, ushering legions of devastated fans back out into a cold,
harsh, Crawley-less world. While there may be never be a replacement that
completely fills the Carson-sized hole in our hearts, there are certainly a few
period dramas that give us hope:
Julian Fellowes’ Doctor
From the creator of Downton Abbey himself, Julian Fellowes’
Doctor Thorne adapts Anthony Trollope’s 1858 novel into a three-part series
with no shortage of fierce heartache and fancy hairpieces. Starring a few
familiar faces (like Alison Brie) and some equally charming newcomers, Doctor
Thorne centers around penniless orphan Mary Thorne, who unwittingly upheaves the
lives of the aristocratic Gresham family when she falls in love with their son
while living at their estate. The series starts streaming exclusively on Prime
Videoon Friday, May 20th, so make sure to clear your weekend plans.
An American period medical drama set in the midst of the
Civil War, Mercy Street follows two fairly green nurses on opposite sides of
the battle as they navigate both national strife and personal struggles. The
PBS series seems determined to pick up where Downton left off, weaving a
compelling narrative of romance, politics, and history with plenty of stomach-churning
surgery scenes to boot. All in all, it’ll teach you a thing or two about the
Civil War while making you glad you never had to live through it.
With long brunette locks that seem to always blow perfectly
in the wind, protagonist Ross Poldark often seems to have stepped straight from
the cover of a romance novel, though his backstory is firmly set in a grim
reality. BBC’s Poldark takes a dramatic trip through 18th century
England, following young Poldark as he returns from fighting in the American
War of Independence only to find his father dead, his tin mines in ruins, and
his fiancée engaged to his cousin. Rough day. However, Poldark’s brash spirit isn’t
so easily squashed—and neither is his penchant for love (and revenge).
For Downton fans who love a little mystery to go along with
their historical drama, PBS Masterpiece series Grantchester offers both in
spades. James Norton stars as a handsome young vicar and amateur sleuth who
becomes involved with a local suicide case, much to the chagrin of his
unwilling partner Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green). Though the murders
are grisly, the show keeps things humorously lighthearted as the unlikely duo
competes to crack the case—and each other’s weaknesses.
Still pining for Downton (or haven’t seen it yet)? Stream
seasons 1-5 anytime on Prime Video,
and watch the final season starting June 6.
Michelle Dockery returns to the podcast to
reflect on Lady Mary’s comeuppance…and redemption, from her jaw-dropping
fight with Edith to her heart-to-heart with Violet, and finally her wedding to