“Downton Abbey” has come a long way since its 1912 beginnings. The Crawleys have weathered the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, near-financial ruin, numerous family deaths, scandal and even Jewish intermarriage (gasp!). But don’t expect to see Nazis planes bearing down on the Earl of Grantham any time soon.
The last season of the hit British drama will take place in 1925, Julian Fellowes told The Wrap. In fact, Fellowes specified that one of the reasons the show will end before 1930 is to avoid Hitler-focused scenes.
“I feel the ’30s have been very much explored dramatically, and I didn’t really want to get into the whole business of the Nazis, which I think has been explored exhaustively,” Fellowes said. “And I don’t know that there is anything else to be said about the Nazis.”
“The difficulty of dramatizing the Nazis, to me, is that I like ambivalent dramas, where you don’t know whose side you’re on, or maybe you change sides,” he added. “You might initially think, Oh no, [Maggie Smith’s character] Violet is completely wrong in this, but as the argument goes on and as you hear more of her point of view, you understand where she’s coming from. That’s what I like. But the Nazis don’t give you that. Nobody’s slightly on the side of the Nazis. It’s so absolute—there’s just bad guys and good guys. And there have been wonderful films about them, but I don’t think I’m the right guy to write them.”
The history buffs among you will know that Hitler didn’t actually rise to power in Germany until 1933. However, the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, which landed the wanna-be dictator in jail, took place in 1923. During that time, he wrote ‘Mein Kampf, which would be published in 1925.
And yes, Fellowes stressed in the interview, this will be the last season, and no amount of pleading letters will change that. “Obviously, we’ve had lots of letters saying, ‘Please don’t,’ which is flattering,” Fellowes said. “And that is precisely why we’re ending it now, because we still get letters asking us not to.”
For more “Downton Abbey” scoops, check out the full interview here.
A disapproving Lord Sinderby (left) with his wife and son, who married a Grantham lass against his father’s wishes.
Once, when radio days were young, there was a silly — but funny — explanation about how radio works: “Imagine a huge dog with its head in Tel Aviv and its tail in Jerusalem, and when you pull the tail in Jerusalem it barks in Tel Aviv. Well, radio is pretty much the same, but without the dog.”
The same goes very much for scheduled live TV broadcasts of wwi (world-wide-interest) events, like the Olympics, the Superbowl and the Oscars. The billions of viewers all over the world glued to their screens at the same time are the wagging (or wagged) tail of the missing dog, and the event is the head, or the other way around.
The Passover meal of which we will all be partaking tonight – except those of you who will be watching TV for some reason that eludes me – is very much like radio and live global TV events: a huge worldwide community composed of families and individuals of Jewish origin, descent, heritage, persuasion and faith sitting together, roughly at the same time, around tables, reciting the same partly abstruse text, and cracking very much the same jokes as they did the same time, last year. To say nothing of the dog.
“Are you watching your Jewish show tonight?” my husband asks as I turn on the telly, as they call it here.
I’m not settling down to watch “The Goldbergs,” or the quirky challah-centered British sitcom, Friday Night Dinner.” No, I’m tuned to a show many of us would have described in its early seasons as one of the least Jewish shows on television — a show that has transformed itself, in Season 5 at least, into one of the most. I’m watching “Downton Abbey.”
When we were first introduced to the show, Yiddishkeit was the last thing on our minds. The Crawley daughters came to us as latter-day Bennet sisters, with an entailed estate and a need for a male heir (or marriage to one). Soon, their lives took us on a journey through history, affected, as they were, by the sinking of the Titanic; unrest in Ireland; women’s rights (and harem pants); World War I; the Russian Revolution; the Spanish influenza pandemic; the advent of the wireless; the popularity of jazz music; and the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich.
And yet: when viewers learned that Cora’s father’s name was Isidore Levinson, a dry goods merchant from Cincinnati, a wave of speculation grew over Lady Grantham’s Jewish roots, and in this season (SPOILER ALERT) Cora confirms our suspicion.
Courtesy of ITV
SPOILER ALERT If you are one of those who actually waits the four-month purgatory period between when “Downton Abbey” airs in the United Kingdom and in the United States, you may want to avoid this blog post. Until January 4, that is.
Attention fellow tribe-members! There is a Jewish boy on this season of “Downton Abbey.” Atticus Aldridge, played by Matt Barber, appears in season 5 as Lady Rose’s new love interest. He’s tall, dashing and did we mention, a lord — and it turns out he’s a member of a Ukrainian Jewish family that fled the pogroms in Odessa.
This doesn’t seem to bother Rose, but really what does? The rest of the family seem pretty keen on Aldrige, including the Dowager Countess, though her reaction when she finds out his true origins is right on point: “There’s always something, isn’t there?”
This is the first confirmed Jewish sighting on the hit series. We first had our hopes pegged on Lady Cora Crawley, described as “the beautiful daughter of Isidore Levinson, a dry goods multimillionaire from Cincinnati.” As it turns out, her father was one of the Chosen, but as the Jewish Chronicle points out, Cora and her brother Harold were raised Episcopalian.
Welcome to the Downton-verse Atticus Aldridge! Mrs. Pattmore may have to start brushing up on her challah recipes.
Fear not, those of you who were disappointed when it turned out that there was no yiddishkeit at Downton Abbey! It seems a kosher version of turn-of-the-20th-century upper crust British life is coming to the small screen in the near future.
The U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reports that Carnival Films, the production company behind the wildly popular show, has greenlighted a television adaptation of “The Innocents,” the successful debut novel by Francesca Segal.
The book, loosely based on Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence,” set in the Temple Fortune neighborhood of London (in the very Jewish borough of Barnet), tells the story of a young couple, Rachel and Adam who met while touring Israel. Adam is a lawyer, and Rachel has a very opinionated Palestine-born grandmother (Hmm…where might we have seen an Edwardian-age grandmother with a barbed tongue before?). Also part of the story is Ellie, Rachel’s seductive and cosmopolitan American cousin, who possibly poses a threat to Rachel and Adam’s relationship.
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