Wednesday 28 September 2016

Downton Abbey, series 6, episode 1 - review: Lady Mary got her knickers in a twist about the time she got her knickers in a twist

Amy Burns

Published 21/09/2015 | 11:21

Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey

Review of episode one of series six of Downton Abbey which broadcast last night on ITV and will air on TV3 on Tuesday at 10pm. WARNING: SPOILERS

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“So you want to protect your power at the expense of the patients – and I want to protect the patients at the expense of my power.” Not, as you might think, an extract from the British Prime Minister’s Questions, but the latest drama facing the residents of Downton Abbey, who returned last night for the sixth – and final – series of the period soap. Sorry, drama.

Yes the Royal County hospital in York had announced plans to take over the village hospital and Lady Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith) was having none of it. “We would become the tools of a faceless committee,” she fumed. Cousin Isobel, however, was on board. “Our patients would have access to more modern equipment… our fundraising would be more efficient,” she concluded.

And this wasn’t the only topical discussion taking place – for a series set almost 100 years ago, the storylines were surprisingly relevant today.

Take Sir John Darnley, who was being forced to sell his estate, Mallerton. He had a stark warning for Downton’s Crawley family: “In 20 years’ time, there won’t be a house this size standing that isn’t an institution.” Or these days, luxury flats, but you get the point. And his words obviously rang true with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), who hurried home to trim his wage bill.

Meanwhile, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) was getting her knickers in a twist about the time she, er, got her knickers in a twist with Viscount Gillingham. A chambermaid from Liverpool turned up demanding £1,000 or she was going to the News of the World. Lady Mary was adamant she wouldn’t be blackmailed – her solution, instead, was to pout.

Luckily, Daddy had a better one. He got the wayward maid to sign a confession saying she had attempted to blackmail the family then bunged her £50.

Downstairs, life was brighter for maid Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt), who learned that she would not be prosecuted over the death of the man who raped her. This, it would seem, was news enough for Lord Grantham to quickly forget everything he had learned about frugality and to crack open the champagne.

(© Independent News Service)

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