Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Downton Abbey Returns

Cast in the signature image for season 3 of Downton Abbey

The new and long anticipated Season 3 of Downton Abbey premieres on Masterpiece on Rhode Island PBS in January. At the end of Season 2, we were left breathless by Matthew's (Dan Stevens) romantic marriage proposal to Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) amid swirling Christmas snowflakes - and her acceptance finally. But we have to wonder what new twists of destiny and fate writer Julian Fellowes has planned for us.

We do know that Shirley MacLaine (above) joins the cast as Cora's (Elizabeth McGovern) American mother, Martha Levinson. Can you imagine the electrifying quips and barbs that will fly between Martha and Violet, Dowager Countess Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith, pictured below)?

If the video clips are any indication, those moments will be delicious.

In the meantime, Rhode Island PBS presents Season 1 of Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Fridays at 9 P.M., beginning September 28. We will encore Season 2 at the end of November.

For fans of good statistics as well as good drama, Downton Abbey was nominated for 12 Emmy awards and won four - including Outstanding Miniseries - in its first season. It has been nominated for a staggering 16 Emmys for its second season.

Taking fondness for Downton Abbey a grand leap forward, Rhode Island PBS is working with Collette Vacations on a customized 11-day tour of British landscapes that includes a visit to the real-life Downton Abbey - Highclere Castle, the sumptuous home of Earl and Countess of Carnarvon where the Downton Abbey series is filmed.
According to the Highclere Castle and Masterpiece Web sites:
The Highclere Castle of today was achieved through several iterations, most of them overseen by the Carnarvon family, who have lived there since 1679. The original Elizabethan house was built on the site of a medieval palace and later rebuilt as a classical Georgian house. But it was the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon who, in 1839, created the Highclere Castle of today when he commissioned the architect of the Houses of Parliament, Charles Barry.
The architect of Highclere Castle (above)
also designed the Houses of Parliament (below)

Set on 1,000 acres of parkland, Highclere Castle's interior was finished in 1878, and within its walls history was made as the Egyptologist and 5th Earl of Carnarvon financed Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. 
British and world history intersected again with the castle as it was converted into a hospital during the First World War. During World War II, it was home to more than 100 children evacuated during the Blitz.

Even the simplest Google search term "Downton Abbey" reveals several sites and blogs rich with information about the Downton Abbey series and Highclere Castle itself. The Highclere Castle and Masterpiece Web sites start you on a fascinating journey that can blur the line between television fiction and the often more fantastic history... like the real-life conversion of Highclere Castle into a hospital during World War I!

Signature images for each season: 
Downton Abbey, Season 1
Downton Abbey, Season 2
Downton Abbey, Season 3
To keep up with unfolding news about Downton Abbey Season 3 - as well as the Highclere Castle tour during the British Landscapes trip to England, Scotland, and Wales - visit ripbs.org/britain.