Welcome Canada, to the world of Downton Abbey. You may have heard about Downton, (not Downtown), the British produced period drama. Perhaps you have heard a bit about the story line, the quotes (“what is a weekend?”), the critical acclaim, as well as the awards it has won. You might have heard that PBS carried it on Masterpiece Theare–that sounds about right–and some fuss this past weekend with a grand finale: a Christmas episode…in February, that’s odd. If you are like me, you hate jumping into show mid stream–or worse–when it is all over. So you may have not been convinced that this was a show to invest your time on.
Well, Canada, its not too late for you to watch Downton the old fashioned way (on broadcast televison) because starting tonight, Vision TV is broacasting the show right from the beginning. It will be seen Wednesday nights from 9 pm EST, 7 pm MWT. We hibernate in Winter anyway, so enjoy your time inside and make friends on Twitter at #Downtoneh .
Top 10 Reasons Canadians Will Love Downton Abbey
- It’s free–unlike other shows, it is broadcast via public TV or basic cable.
- Beautiful to watch–Season 1 cost £1 million/episode to produce.
- Like Canada, Downton is a lovely home on a huge piece of land.
- We don’t have to live in Vancouver or Victoria to enjoy tea and crumpets.
- High brow humour–Maggie Smith, as the Dowager, has the best lines on TV.
- British is Better–it is not an American show.
- The Crawleys aren’t particularly fond of Americans either.
- Honor & decency reigns–indiscretions have consequences.
- There is no singing–OK, there is 1 song, but it only comes later in Season 2.
- An upscale alternative to Coronation Street, but we still love Corrie anyway.
Getting up to Speed: What you need to know
- The series is set on the fictional estate of Downton Abbey in the North Riding of Yorkshire, featuring an ensemble cast, so there are many characters to get to know.
- It was created and principally written by Julian Fellowes, and premièred on ITV on 26 September 2010.
- There have been 2 seasons produced, and ITV has confirmed a third season will be broadcast, starting in September 2012 in the UK.
- The upstairs scenes are filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, which is open to visitors from April on. The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon actually live there. I am sure that letting out a few rooms for filming and visitors helps pay the taxes.
- The servants’ living areas were constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios in London.
- The village of Bampton in Oxfordshire was used for filming outdoor scenes, most notably St Mary’s Church and the library, which serves as the entrance to the cottage hospital.
- It is the most successful British period drama since Brideshead Revisited, with ratings exceeding 10 million viewers.The series also was well received in the United States, averaging more than six million viewers per episode.
- Critically acclaimed: Guinness World Records has awarded it “Highest Critical Review Ratings For A TV Show.”
- We love everyone on the show except for O’Brien and Thomas.
Host your own viewing parties
I remember the days when I would seek out friends who had premium cable so I could keep up with shows like The Sopranos. Yes, I admit that I would bribe my way in with baked ziti. With Downton you don’t have that problem since Vision TV is included in basic cable across Canada. So you may gather like-minded friends at the home of whomever has the largest TV, or you could take turns hosting a party with period appropriate food. You can keep it real simple. Hint: Oreos, although American, were invented in 1914.
A few things to keep in mind:
- The commercials are short so plan your bio breaks accordingly.
- Feel free to dress up, but there are no tiaras on this show.
- The show is in the evening, so tea might not be your cup of…
- Wine is fine to drink. Claret (simply means a dry red wine) is often preferred by the Crawleys, as is Sherry.
- Pimm’s would also be a good choice to keep with the theme.
- The food on the show is not very complicated to make, which is where I come in.
My blog is full of recipes to serve for dinner or tea. To apoid spoilers, just scroll down to the bottom section to check out the recipes. I offer mostly heart-healthy options to the traditional recipes. I also include all my recipes on Pinterest.
As part of the Season Finale craze last week I posted a suggested dinner menu. I also gave an interview to an LA radio station, (check out posted interview) as part of a fun Weekend Alibi segment, if you know what a weekend is, that is.
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Welcome to Downton, Canada
We greeted the South Africans yesterday with those lovely tea sandwiches. I thought I would share my easy scone recipe to welcome my fellow Canadians to the tea party. Only a wee bit of butter in this versions, so not a diet breaker. Enjoy.
Kitchen Tools for your Downton Kitchen
As Mrs. Patmore would say, “a poor workman blames his tools”. The Victorians were the first to really get into kitchen gadgets. Today’s advanced manufacturing and materials now provide us with better built and longer lasting tools, than what Mrs. Patmore would have had access to.
This is a cool glove which protects your hands while grating. I have not so fond memories of slicing my finger tips more than once while grating apples as a young kitchen helper.