Downton Abbey is one of the nation’s best loved TV series, with it gaining keen followers all over the world. And now the Crawley family are getting a big screen makeover as they take to the cinema for their latest outing. Express.co.uk can reveal all the latest gossip and what really went on behind the scenes and on the set of Downton Abbey.
The real life inspiration of Downton Abbey
The plot of the film is something to bring all the characters together and give them all a common goal, said writer and series creator Julian Fellowes.
This film sees the upstairs and downstairs crew preparing for the visit of the royals – King George V and his wife, Queen Mary, and daughter, Princess Mary, along with their entourage.
Everyone is on their very best behaviour – or so they should be – as the whole house tries to impress the royals while living some of their own adventures as well.
Michelle Dockery and Matthew Goode in Downton Abbey
But this was inspired by when George V and his family visited Wentworth Woodhouse, where he royals met miners and pit-workers and toured towns alongside eating decadent 13-course dinners.
Historically, King George and Queen Mary stayed at Wentworth Woodhouse for four days, between July 8 and 12, 1912.
There were also a huge number of other dignitaries who joined them, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, 10th Earl of Scarborough and his wife, politician Walter Long, alongside plenty of peers and aristocrats.
The visit also included a torchlight tattoo by the miners, where a crowd of 25,000 gathered to see the royals on the balcony, and where George V gave a speech.
Strictly Come Dancing fun
It turns out Imelda Staunton and Allen Leech, who play newcomer Lady Maud Bagshaw and Tom Branson, enjoyed scoring some of the couples’ dance moves as they shimmied at the royal event.
Allen joked to The Mirror: “We would walk up to the couples and judge them like on Strictly.
“Michelle Dockery is an amazing dancer – if anyone could do Strictly, it’s her.
“Men had to wear long socks – and Hugh Bonneville has incredible calves.
But Simon Jones “spent most of his time on the Queen’s toes.”
Imelda Staunton as Lady Bagshaw
The big parade
It turns out one of the ways the royals are honoured in the film is with a big parade.
To make this as authentic as possible, the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, were used for the spectacular parade as they were given a break from Trooping the Colour.
The incredible feat was filmed in Lacock, Wiltshire, and production was forced to build a camp and tables for 80 horses and 125 troopers nearby.
The troopers were perfectly dressed for the occasion as well, wearing “basically identical” uniforms to the 1920s, according to the producer, Gareth Neame.
The royal family, including King George in Downton Abbey
Surprise call back
Allen Leech has also revealed he was called back to the set after he thought he had finished his scenes, due to a missing moment.
It was really important to see Tom and his love interest in the film, Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton) have a moonlit dance as part of the glorious royal proceedings.
So, despite not being originally scripted, Allen was called back to set.
He said: “I had finished all my scenes and was back in London when I got a call saying, ‘We need you back’.
“One producer had an idea of filming a scene outside Harewood.
“Tuppence and I learnt that dance in an hour-and-a-half.”
Allen Leech as Tom in Downton Abbey
Subtle protocols had to be considered
On a film like Downton Abbey, it is important to make sure it is as historically accurate as is possible.
Alastair Bruce, the history expert on Downton Abbey, had his work cut out for him as he had to incorporate the protocols of the time, as well as those involved with receiving royals at your home.
He told The Mirror: “Most of the challenges I face are to do with things like how people stand, as most people now have shoulders that slope forward and downcast heads – we’re changing shape as human beings.
“If you look at film of the period, you’ll see people are much more erect, partly because the clothing made people stand like that a lot of people do what I call “crotch grabbing”, where they put their hands in front of their nether regions.
The royals dancing in Downton Abbey