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Sunday 17 December 2017

Writer regrets Downton errors huff

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows

DOWNTON Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has admitted that he should not have got "the hump" when viewers pointed out a string of historical inaccuracies in the hit period drama.

The 62-year-old has been filming a second series of Downton Abbey with Hugh Bonneville and Dame Maggie Smith among its cast, after the first became a ratings hit, attracting 11 million viewers for the final episode.

But viewers spotted apparent anachronisms - such as the use of the word boyfriend, the sight of a TV aerial fixed to a home, a modern-style conservatory and double yellow lines on a road - in the first series.

Fellowes, the drama's writer and executive producer, had lashed out at those highlighting the inaccuracies, saying: "The real problem is with people who are insecure socially."

He added: "They think to show how smart they are by picking holes in the programme to promote their own poshness and to show that their knowledge is greater than your knowledge."

Now he has told the Radio Times that it was "sloppy" to have let the TV aerial slip through in the ITV1 drama, which has sold to more than 100 countries, including the US, Japan, Australia, Israel and Albania.

He said that he specified that the aerial should be removed from the shot "but somehow it fell through the system, which was sloppy, and I was annoyed about that."

The Oscar-winning Gosford Park screenwriter said complainants were not always correct, citing the use of the word boyfriend, which he says was in print in 1889, so would have been in speech before that.

"But", he told the Radio Times, "I thought I behaved rather badly by getting the hump."

The hotly anticipated second series of Downton Abbey, which begins later this month, will explore how the lives of the residents and staff of the titular estate are affected by the First World War.

The first series had the biggest ratings of any ITV costume drama since Brideshead Revisited back in 1981.

Asked whether he anticipated the drama's popularity, Fellowes said: "I thought we'd made a good show and people would enjoy it, but it was extraordinary. We were playing to something like a third of the adult population.

"I mean, nobody could expect that level of success, except for Simon Cowell. It was completely mad."

Fellowes, who is married to Emma Kitchener, also told the Radio Times that it was "ridiculous" that his wife's family title - the Earldom of Kitchener - will become extinct, because the current Earl has no children and his wife, the Earl's niece, is a woman.

"If you're asking me if I find it ridiculous that in 2011, a perfectly sentient adult woman has no rights of inheritance whatsoever when it comes to a hereditary title, I think it's outrageous, actually."

He added: "Either you've got to get rid of the system or you've got to let women into it. I don't think you can keep it as 'men only'."


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