Downton Abbey (series 1)

Downton Abbey (series 1)

DVD cover art
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 7
Original network ITV
Original release 26 September (2010-09-26) – 7 November 2010 (2010-11-07)

The first series of Downton Abbey comprises 7 episodes,[1] and was broadcast in the UK on 26 September 2010, and explored the lives of the Crawley family and their servants from the day after the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912 to the outbreak of the First World War on 4 August 1914.[2] The ties between blood relations in family are an important part of the series.[3] The series takes a sympathetic look at those at lower positions in life, such as the more compassionate treatment of homosexuality seen with depictions of the character of Thomas Barrow.[4]

Series overview

The first series focus is on the need for a male heir to the Grantham estate, and the troubled love life of Lady Mary as she attempts to find a suitable husband. The device that sets the drama in motion is the fee tail or "entail" governing the (fictional) Earldom of Grantham, endowing both title and estate exclusively to heirs male and complicated by the dire financial state of the estate, the latter only resolved when the earl—then the heir apparent—married an American heiress. On the marriage, her considerable fortune was contractually incorporated into the comital entail in perpetuity. The earl and countess, who have three daughters and no son, arranged for their eldest daughter to marry her cousin, son of the then-heir presumptive. The demise of both heirs in the sinking of the Titanic destroys the plans and brings into play a distant male cousin, Matthew Crawley, a solicitor from Manchester, as heir presumptive to Downton and the countess's fortune.


Main cast



Recurring and guest cast


No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
11"Episode One"Brian PercivalJulian Fellowes26 September 2010 (2010-09-26)9.25

April 1912. Robert, Earl of Grantham, and his American-born wife Cora live with their three daughters and domestic staff at Downton Abbey. Their way of life has existed for generations, but news arrives that threatens the future of the title and estate. Lord Grantham's cousin James Crawley, heir presumptive to the earldom, and his son Patrick have died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic. An entail on the estate means that only a male heir can inherit the title and land, along with the fortune Cora brought to the estate when she married Robert. The eldest daughter, Lady Mary, was engaged to Patrick to mitigate the situation, but now the land and wealth can no longer remain in the immediate family, and a distant third cousin, whom none of the family have ever met, now stands to inherit everything. Violet, Lord Grantham's mother, titled the Dowager Countess, is determined to break the entail, even though Lord Grantham and his lawyer doubt this is possible.

Meanwhile, Lord Grantham hires his former batman, John Bates as his valet, worrying the butler, Mr. Carson, and the other servants, as he is unable to walk far without use of a stick. However, a housemaid, Anna, takes a liking to him. Thomas, an ambitious footman who also wanted the job, repeatedly tries undermining Bates, assisted by Cora's maid, the vindictive Miss O'Brien. Cora and Carson convince Lord Grantham that Bates is unsuitable for the job; Bates is extremely upset at this news.

The family is pleased to learn that the young Duke of Crowborough wants to visit, feeling that he will be a good match for Mary, but the Duke is more interested in prying in the servants' rooms and cools completely when he learns that Lord Grantham does not intend to fight the entail. It is revealed that the Duke once had a romantic relationship with Thomas, who later informed the Duke about the possibility of Mary inheriting, hoping to get a job as valet in return. As the Duke will not offer him the job, Thomas tries to blackmail him but the Duke reveals that he has retrieved his love letters from Thomas's room, and burns them before Thomas can stop him. Lord Grantham has a change of heart and asks Bates not to leave. The episode ends with a glimpse of the new heir, Matthew Crawley, as he learns of his good fortune.
22"Episode Two"Ben BoltJulian Fellowes3 October 2010 (2010-10-03)9.97

September 1912. Matthew Crawley, a 27-year-old solicitor and new heir to the Grantham earldom and estate, arrives at Downton Abbey with his mother, the long-widowed Isobel. He is reluctant to adapt to his new mode of life but his mother feels that they should not satisfy the family's assumptions about their class and behaviour. Matthew ridicules the prospect of marrying one of the daughters, which Mary overhears when she visits, and is attracted to her. Violet and Lady Mary are openly hostile towards Isobel and Matthew. The families also experience some culture clash due to their differing backgrounds. Matthew astonishes cousin Violet when he declares that he intends to keep working as a solicitor. Isobel, too, is determined to hold her own against Violet and, as she trained as a nurse during the Anglo-Boer War, occupies herself with the local hospital.

Meanwhile, Mr Carson is extremely distressed by a letter and Anna sees him stealing food. It turns out that Carson is a former music-hall performer and is being blackmailed by his old show partner, Charles Grigg, now a petty thief hiding from the law, to whom he's been giving food and lodging. However, only Mr Bates, Anna, Lady Sybil and Lord Grantham know about this, so there is no fear of exposure. Lord Grantham is amused by Carson's background and pays off Grigg, threatening to inform the police about him if he returns. The hostility between Mrs. Crawley and the Dowager Countess of Grantham escalates when Isobel pressures Dr. Clarkson into performing pericardiocentesis on a hospital patient suffering from dropsy. Violet tries to prevent this but the treatment is successful and Robert makes Mrs. Crawley chair of the hospital board, feeling that his mother has too much control. Violet, herself, begins to consider the possibility of Mary marrying Matthew, but Mary is firmly opposed to this.
33"Episode Three"Ben BoltJulian Fellowes10 October 2010 (2010-10-10)8.97
March 1913. Cora is pleased when Lady Mary informs her that Evelyn Napier, son of a peer and possible suitor, will be visiting. However, he arrives with a dashing Turkish diplomat, Mr. Kemal Pamuk, who is in London for the Albanian independence negotiations, and Mary is smitten. Thomas is also attracted to him but Mr. Pamuk is not amused. However, he promises not to inform anyone about Thomas's indiscretion, provided he will do something in return. Edith tries to interest Matthew by offering to show him the local churches, but to her disappointment, he is more interested in the buildings than her. Bates purchases a prosthetic device to correct his limp, but this proves to be extremely painful and injurious, until Mrs. Hughes discovers it and insists he dispose of it. Gwen (a housemaid) has a secret: she has been training to be a secretary, by correspondence. She is dejected by the other servants' scepticism and disapproval of this, but is encouraged by Lady Sybil, Mr. Bates and Anna. During and after dinner, Lady Mary has eyes only for Mr. Pamuk, but when he surprises her by kissing her, she rejects him. Undeterred, Thomas leads him to her room that night. He seduces her but dies in her bed. To avert a scandal, Mary is forced to seek the help of Anna and her mother to move Pamuk's body back into his own bed. Unknown to them, Daisy, the scullery maid, sees them carrying the body. Cora is horrified by Mary's behaviour but promises not to tell Robert, as it would break his heart. Mary is extremely upset by Pamuk's death. In the aftermath, from Mary's behaviour, Napier realises he does not have a chance with her.
44"Episode Four"Brian KellyJulian Fellowes, Shelagh Stephenson17 October 2010 (2010-10-17)9.70
May 1913. A travelling fair arrives in the neighbouring village. Anna becomes sick and stays in bed for a day, visited by Mr. Bates who brings her up a tray with a flower. Mrs. Hughes (the housekeeper) is reunited with a former suitor, who proposes to her again; she discusses her choices in life with Mr. Carson and eventually turns down the proposal after serious consideration but seems satisfied with her decision. Thomas asks Daisy to accompany him to the fair simply to annoy William, who is fond of her. Although Mr. Bates physically threatens Thomas, he is unabashed and leaves with a smirk. Molesley suffers from an allergic reaction to rue, which Violet correctly diagnoses after Isobel assumed it was erysipelas (much to the amusement and pleasure of Violet.) Carson fears there is a thief at Downton after doing inventory of the wine cellar and discovering quite a few items missing. Lady Sybil continues her experimentation with feminism with the aid and inspiration of the new, politically minded Irish chauffeur, Branson. After visiting her dressmaker, she surprises the whole family by displaying an outfit consisting of bloomers, and Branson is seen admiring her from the window.
55"Episode Five"Brian KellyJulian Fellowes24 October 2010 (2010-10-24)9.40
August 1913. Bates discovers that Thomas is stealing wine from the cellar. Worried that he will be reported, Thomas attempts to frame Bates for stealing one of Lord Grantham's antique snuffboxes, but his plans are thwarted. Anna tells Mr. Bates that she loves him, but he says they can't be together. Meanwhile, rumours are beginning to circulate about Lady Mary and the "handsome Turk". Daisy is finding it increasingly difficult to keep quiet about what she has seen, and after some cajoling from Miss O'Brien, she tells her story to Lady Edith, who reveals the truth to the Turkish ambassador. At the annual flower show, Isobel questions Violet's history of winning every year and instead supports Molesley's father's arrangements, much to Violet's dismay.
66"Episode Six"Brian PercivalJulian Fellowes, Tina Pepler31 October 2010 (2010-10-31)9.84

May 1914. Lady Sybil's interest in politics and women's rights is kindled by the upcoming by-election, and is the cause of major disagreement between her and Lord Grantham. Meanwhile, presumably as a result of Lady Edith's letter, rumours about Lady Mary and the "handsome Turk" intensify, reaching the ears of Carson and the Dowager Countess herself. Violet confronts Cora, who is forced to tell her the truth, leaving Violet almost as shocked by her behaviour as Mary's. Edith finds an admirer in Sir Anthony Strallan, after he is impressed by her thoughtfulness and genuine interest in him. Miss O'Brien and Thomas continue to plot against Bates, trying to frame him for the theft of a wine bottle - which Thomas stole as witnessed by Bates. Thomas persuades Daisy to testify against Bates, but her conscience leads her to retract her statement. However, Bates surprises Carson, Mrs. Hughes and Anna by revealing that he was once a drunkard and has been in prison for theft; Carson is unwilling to let him go, realising that there is more to his story.

Sybil makes Branson take her to Ripon under false pretences to attend the by-election count. She is injured during a brawl when the counting gets out of hand, but is rescued by Matthew as he is returning from work. Lord Grantham blames Branson but Sybil defends him. Later that night, Mary and Matthew talk and reminisce, leading to their confessing their love for each other. Lord and Lady Grantham are delighted to learn that Matthew has asked Mary to marry him, but to Cora's chagrin, Mary feels she cannot accept his proposal without telling him her scandalous secret. Violet apologises for her earlier harsh treatment of Cora, and they decide that if the match between Mary and Matthew does not come off, they will marry her off to some "Italian who is not too picky". Anna expresses to Mr. Bates that she doesn't want him to leave Downton and they almost kiss before a horse kicks a stable door, which startles them, and Anna leaves.
77"Episode Seven"Brian PercivalJulian Fellowes7 November 2010 (2010-11-07)10.77

July–August 1914. Tensions abound following the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The family returns from London after Sybil's debutante ball but Mary stays with her aunt and has yet to give Matthew an answer. When, to everyone's great surprise, Cora discovers that she is pregnant after eighteen years and Mary's aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick, advises her to reconsider marrying Matthew, since his situation would change completely if the baby is a boy. Mary learns from Evelyn Napier that it was Edith, not he, who originated the rumours about her and Pamuk. Through a letter to O'Brien, Carson has discovered the details of Bates's crime: while he was a soldier, he stole the regimental silver. However, Carson, Lord Grantham, and Anna realise that Bates is keeping something back. After Mrs. Patmore's condition worsens, Lord Grantham sends her to London to have cataract surgery.[6][7] Anna goes with her and discovers from Bates's mother that he took the blame for the theft on behalf of his wife, as he believed that he had ruined her life, although his mother does not agree. While convalescing, Mrs. Patmore is temporarily replaced by Mrs. Crawley's cook, Mrs. Bird, whose cooking she fears will be preferred to her own. Mrs. Patmore accordingly asks Daisy to spoil the family's meals, but her actions are discovered. Mrs. Bird sympathises with Daisy's loyalty, and upon Mrs. Patmore's recovery and return, Mrs. Bird manages to win her over.

Matthew is angered by Mary's hesitancy following Cora's pregnancy, declaring that her decision should purely depend on whether she loves him or not. Anticipating the war, Thomas finds a non-combatant role in the Army Medical Corps with the help of Dr. Clarkson. When Molesley finds Thomas trying to steal from Carson's wallet, Lord Grantham tells Carson to wait until after the upcoming charity garden party to act on it. Thomas opportunely hands in his resignation and Mary confronts Edith about revealing her scandalous secret, implying that she will exact revenge. Learning that Sir Anthony Strallan intends to propose at the garden party, Mary manipulates him into thinking Edith finds him old and boring, so he leaves suddenly without explanation. O'Brien is angry when she mistakenly believes that Cora is going to replace her and takes advantage of an opportunity to punish the Countess by leaving soap below her bath. She regrets it immediately but is unable to warn Cora, who slips, falls, and miscarries. There is further heartache when they find out the baby was a boy. O'Brien is extremely upset but the callous Thomas ridicules the staff for their sympathy for the family, and William for mourning his mother so deeply, leading to a fight between the two.

Telephone service is newly installed in the house, and Sybil manages to get Gwen an interview as secretary for the phone company. When Branson conveys the good news that Gwen has secured the post, his obvious friendliness with Sybil leads Mrs. Hughes to warn him against getting too close to her. Molesley's interest in Anna leads Bates to imply that he returns her affections. Mary is now prepared to marry Matthew and is heartbroken when he tells her he cannot be sure of her motives and intends to leave Downton. In the final scene, during the garden party, Lord Grantham receives a telegram and announces to all that the United Kingdom is at war with Germany, marking the beginning of the First World War.

Critical reception

The first series of Downton Abbey received universal and widespread critical acclaim, including commercial success.

On 14 July 2011, Downton Abbey received eleven nominations for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards winning six, including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special for Brian Percival, Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special for Julian Fellowes, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Dame Maggie Smith, who won again the following year for series 2.

At the 63rd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the series won Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special and Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie – both for "Episode One".


  1. Fellowes, Julian (5 February 2013). Downton Abbey Script Book Season 1. HarperCollins. p. Content. ISBN 978-0-06-223832-0.
  2. Fellowes, Julian; Sturgis, Matthew (13 November 2012). The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era. St. Martin's Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-250-02763-4.
  3. Fellowes, Jessica (6 December 2011). The World of Downton Abbey. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1-250-01620-1.
  4. Bignell, Jonathan; Lacey, Stephen (13 May 2014). British Television Drama: Past, Present and Future. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-137-32758-1.
  5. Weekly Top 10 Programmes Broadcasters' Audience Research Board
  6. Moran, Joe (10 December 2010). "Master class".
  7. Sutcliffe, Tom (8 November 2010). "The Weekend's TV: Downton Abbey, Sun, ITV1 – The First World War from Above, Sun, BBC1". The Independent.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/24/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.