Downton Abbey may have finished on television a few years ago but it’s enjoying a pretty successful afterlife. People haven’t really stopped talking about it, both back home and here in the US where it was an unexpected hit.
And of course there was a movie in 2019 which was a success. In fact it was so much of a success, they’re doing a sequel. I can see Downton just going on and on for years; people love catching up with drawing room shenanigans of the toffs and their stately home staff.
There’s going to be another Downton movie in cinemas this Christmas which is something to look forward to post-pandemic.
One of the cast stalwarts is Lesley Nicol, who plays the shrewd queen of the Downton kitchens, Mrs Patmore.
And speaking of queens, she revealed to me the show has some real royal fans – including Her Maj – when I sat down for a chat with her last week.
“When I met Prince Charles, somebody said to him, ‘Oh sir, do you watch Downton Abbey?’
“He replied, ‘I come and I go with it’! I know Camilla does, but his mum definitely does.
“How do I know? I have it on good authority…”
The backroom staff of these stately homes really DO know everything!
Lesley said she doesn’t often slip into character as Mrs Patmore, but did on the last Royal visit to the set a couple of years ago.
“When Kate Middleton came to visit the set, Sophie (McShera) and I were in the kitchen and weirdly we were asked to wear our costumes – it was weird because we weren’t actually working that day! We were waiting for Kate to visit and suddenly a man in a suit walks in and I went straight up to him and barked, ‘so who are you?’
“And he said, ‘Well I’m a royal protection officer’. I think I said, ‘are you armed?’
“But I went very Patmore very quickly. I immediately thought, like Mrs Patmore, ‘you don’t walk into MY kitchen!’”
She’s a great pal and talking of great friends, I’d love to catch up with the Douglas family.
Last time I chatted to Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, we discussed what their children Dylan, 20, and Carys, 18, wanted to do after school. “Their love of the craft of acting is so strong,” said Catherine. “They’re brainy. They’re doing politics and history in school, but their passion is acting.
“(His dad) Kirk was a massive star thanks to Spartacus when Michael got his start. I never had that, I was like, ‘Audition? I am in. If they don’t want me, I’ll just queue up around the corner and line up again,” she joked.
“But with my kids, Michael has said to them what it is like to be someone who is ‘the daughter of’ in the same industry.
“If you are successful in this business your kids have to know it’s not an easy way in. In fact one has to prove oneself more. Even with that deterrent my kids are like, ‘No, sorry. We still want to do it.’”
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