Downton Abbey has been a roaring success in the UK, understandably, but it was the surprise effect it has had on the rest of the world which has really been a shock, America in particular.
Unreality TV were lucky enough to attend the world premiere of the first episode of series 5 in London last week, where a panel of cast and crew were presented after to answer questions from the press in attendance.
One of the questions that was posed to the panel was about the surprise hit the show has become in the US, and when asked about this, Joanne Froggatt , who plays Anna Bates in the hit show, replied:
“It is incredible. None of us would have dared expect the success of Downton and where it has come.”
When asked by host, ITN’s Alistair Stewart, at what point she realised the enormity of the show, Froggatt revealed:
“I was joking when we first started filming saying that I was the kiss of death to any show because I have never done a second series of anything. But I was wrong about that, thank goodness!
“As soon as I read the script I fell in love with my character and I didn’t want to put it down.”
On if she gets recognised in America, Froggatt continued:
“Whenever we go to other countries it is often to do publicity stuff so there is a big group of us, so as a group we are quite conspicuous.
“I remember one night we went to see Dan Stevens play on Broadway and I think we caused more of an attraction than the show did that night. We couldn’t leave our seats for people stopping us – But it was lovely.”
On what the main appeal is to American audiences, some of whom may not be able to fully understand some of the show’s very British ways, Allen Leech, who plays Tom Branson in the hit ITV period drama, mused:
“I think there is just a fascination with British. Downton allows you in to the whole world, upstairs and down. It allows you to see the workings of this household and, as is the great thing about Downton, all its secrets too.”
“There are also 22 main characters so there is a pretty good chance that you will find one to route for, and one to hate.”
On this subject, show producer Gareth Neame added:
“You take this very quintessential genre that we all know about, which is very familiar and is a very easy brand to sell globally.
“Everyone already has a sense of it from Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. But of course it has always been a literary tradition really, I know Upstairs Downstairs was produced on television as well, but largely this world has been kept in a literature environment before.
“But Downton is original – The story telling is fast paced, it is contemporary, it is multi-layered, it has numerous characters that offer different points of entry.
“And it has a different quality of production. We look at American shows like True Detective and think what an extraordinary looking production, we could never do anything like that. It is all about what is exotic to you, I suppose.
“Downton Abbey is classic, but it’s the storyline and pace of a modern show.”
Downton Abbey is due to return to our ITV screens this autumn – Keep an eye out for more interviews from the cast, and crew, in the lead up, here at Unreality TV!