Press tour for Downton Abbey's 2nd season

For those looking for more news regarding Downton Abbey's upcoming second season, here are a selection of tidbits from yesterday's press tour!

“People will live. People will die. Marriages will be made.
Babies will be born. I can’t possibly tell you
who any of these things will happen to.”
~ Rebecca Eaton, PBS Masterpiece Executive Producer [THR]

What we know...
* Downton Abbey will air in a total of 9 episodes: beginning in September 2011 with 8 episodes on ITV in UK, followed by a break with the 9th episode airing around Christmas time
* PBS Masterpiece will air the series in its entirety in January 2012 in 7 episodes, the Christmas episode included. [Keep in mind PBS does not have commercials and formats it differently with some episodes 90 minutes vs. 60 minutes across the pond.]
* Two cast members are not returning: We'll miss Gwen (Rose Leslie) but will have to be content with imagining her enjoying her new post as a secretary, the job she longed to pursue. "Maybe we'll bring her back at some point in a secretarial role, as a professional woman," Gareth Neame says. The other "character" not returning is the original dog that was Lord Grantham's 'Pharaoh'. Seems that he caused problems for the real dogs at Highclere Castle so 'he' has been replaced with a 'she' who will be named 'Isis'.

"This time around, we won't even lose 20 minutes of footage"... "The US version of "Downton's" [season] 2 will feature every minute, every frame, of what airs in the UK". The British episodes 1 and 2 will be episode 1 for us [in the U.S.], and we're combining near the end as well but every frame that they see, you'll see", says Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton. [The Fien print, IMDb Twitter, aoltv]

From Deadline:
When questioned about two hours being cut from the PBS edit of Downton Abbey, Rebecca Eaton replied,
"I'm glad you brought this up. This was a story in the Daily Mail. Do I have to say anything more? And they got it wrong and they made a big deal out of it, that we'd taken two hours out. It wasn't true. Our version was overall 20 or 25 minutes shorter and had to do with (advertising) and the need for different formatting. We didn't chop it up to make it more palatable to the dummies in the American audience -- as it was implied." Eaton was quick to add, "By the way, that reporter's name was Christopher Hastings."
[As the Dowager Countess would say, "Put that in your pipe and smoke it!]

From Star News:
Everyone has accepted that Matthew is going to inherit the place. “That story was really dealt with in the first series,” [producer Gareth] Neame said. “He is the heir. They’ve all welcomed him. They’re all disappointed that Mary made the wrong call and in the end she hedged her bets so she didn’t marry him.”

And don’t be misled by his eagerness to flee Downton and return to a life of lawyering in the finale. “He’s gone,” Neame said. “(But) the fact that he’s left Downton doesn’t mean he’s not still the heir. He’s just saying ‘I’m going to hang around with you people.’ ”

And as Matthew heads to battle, the stakes raise beyond the fate of a piece of land. “The war throws everything into turmoil all over again,” Stevens said.

The war will give Dan Stevens some scenes with actor Rob James-Collier, who plays Thomas, the trouble-making gay footman who we last saw joining up with the medical corps to avoid enlisting. Stevens said Thomas was one of the characters he wished Matthew spent more time with the first time around.

“I didn’t really have a great deal to do with (him) in the first series,” he said. But this season, “I’m a soldier in the army and we have an encounter at the front. So I have a couple of scenes with him, which is nice. We get to play with different characters a bit (this season).”

Siobhan Finneran's transformation into O'Brien (seasons 1 and 2)

From The Fien Print
Has O'Brien changed in Series Two? "She's carrying quite a lot of guilt with her about what she did. But she doesn't turn into Mother Theresa, you'll be pleased to know," Siobhan Finneran says, referencing the unfortunate incident involving the soap.

Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery are asked about the restrictions, emotionally, of playing characters from that period. "Very often the emotional intention of the scene runs directly parallel to the verbal intentions," Stevens says, calling it one of the best things of doing costume dramas. "It's interesting to play those scenes where the emotions and true feelings are repressed," Dockery says. "It's very English," adds Stevens. Dockery says that today everything is more "exposed." Neame adds that in almost every single scene, there's a subtext and a gap between what's said and what's intended.

From Radio Times
A subtler theme is also set to emerge: the social change wrought by the First World War, as class boundaries become less rigid. Later in the run, Branson the Irish chauffeur (Allen Leech) will even bring Sunday-night ITV viewers a taste of the Easter Rising.

Some things never change. Maggie Smith still provokes a laugh out loud with everything she says as the dowager countess. Penelope Wilton still sparkles as the stubborn Isobel Crawley. As Lord Grantham, Hugh Bonneville still hears bad news while putting on or removing a jacket, before reporting the calamity to Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern) later on, in pyjamas. Episode one also features the series' best ever use of implausible eaves-dropping.

From aoltv:
"When the show returns, Matthew and Lady Mary haven't seen each other for two years."

"Gareth Neame put it very well the other day -- he said, 'The tragedy is no longer the missing snuffbox -- it's a missing arm or leg or life,'" McGovern said.

Cora, who's usually calm and collected, is unsettled when the show returns, McGovern said. "It takes her a while to acclimate herself, and I think she's very derailed by the situation," McGovern said. "In the first couple of episodes, she's just lost."

Photo credits:
Rahoul Ghose/PBS
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America

More on Downton Abbey, Season 2


  1. “People will live. People will die. Marriages will be made.

    Babies will be born. I can’t possibly tell you
    who any of these things will happen to.”

    It really makes you wonder how the story will go. Still hoping that Matthew and Lady Mary will somehow get married.

  2. @Miss Elizabeth Bennet
    I somehow think it's safe to assume they will end up together (even if someone marries another in the meantime). Have a feeling that Fellowes will get us there eventually!

  3. I think is not important who ends up with who
    (although I love Mary-Matthew complicated relationship) but it is interesting how the characters respond to disappointments and changes (which we live every day, even if less marked).

  4. we have just watched the complete second series video's in AUSTRALIA and were wondering if there will be a third series in 2012?



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