I love this new BBC series playing on our PBS stations’ Masterpiece Theatre! Downton Abbey is an original series, that is, not adapted from period fiction, but written for TV. The “inciting incident” is the sinking of the Titantic taking with it 2 heirs in line to inherit, one who the eldest daughter was obligated to marry. The premise of this show is wonderful, because it, like the Regency, takes place at a period of social change. The earl had to marry an American heiress to save the estate. They, alas, did not have a son. Now when the earl dies, the millions the heiress brought to the estate will go to a distant cousin.

We see some familiar faces on the series:

Maggie Smith, of course as the dowager Countess

Hugh Bonneville as the earl, whom we saw in Miss Austen Regrets

Dan Stevens (with the incredible blue eyes) as the new heir who was Edward in BBC’s Sense and Sensibility

My two favorite characters (so far) are:

Daisy, the scullery maid, played by Sophie McShera. Daisy so perfectly knows her place as the lowest of the servants, yet she is lively and happy and optimistic. I believe I must have been a scullery maid in a past life. I mean, why else would I not mind washing dishes? (Just don’t ask me to cook). I like to believe I would have been the same sort of scullery maid as Daisy.

Bates, the earl’s new butler and his former batman from the Boer War. Bates is played by Brenden Coyle, who did such a marvelous job as Nicholas Higgins in North and South (which I finally watched, by the way. Sigh!!!!!!) I fell in love with Bates immediately. He’s such a wonderful character, an obviously strong, proud man made vulnerable by an injury that makes him lame. When he almost has to leave–omigosh, what an emotional scene.

I am hooked!!!!

I’m delighted that BBC has renewed this series. Could it become the new Upstairs, Downstairs?

For an entirely different opinion of the series see Number One London. Kristine and several of her commenters did not like it too much. One comment was that it was like a soap opera, but, frankly, that’s one of the things I like about it!

Have you seen Downton Abbey? Do you like it? Who’s your favorite character?