Thursday, August 15, 2013

DOWNTON ABBEY: Feared Downton lost the plot with that car crash? Lady Mary's grief (and the men chasing her) will have you spellbound again

PUBLISHED: 18:25 EST, 13 August 2013 | UPDATED: 06:12 EST, 14 August 2013

Downton Abbey is returning to our screens, the most eagerly awaited television event of the year. But instead of simple excitement, there’s the anxious sense this time that the show could be past its best — and ready for the TV scrapyard.

A first preview of the new series revealed yesterday that, after the shocking deaths of two leading characters, Downton is darker and more emotional than ever before.

The elements that have made it the world’s most loved costume drama are still in place, more sumptuous than ever — the acres of brocaded furniture, the glittering silverware, the tapestries and tiaras.

So, too, are the towering central performances of Hugh Bonneville, as an aristocrat struggling in the modern world, and Michelle Dockery as his eldest daughter — now widowed, and frozen in her grief.

ITV chiefs unveiled the first episode of series four at a packed media showing in Mayfair, London, with unparalleled razzmatazz — a reflection of how the show has become the most watched and talked-about drama in the world.

Rumours have swirled around possible plotlines and new characters for months, including reports that renowned opera diva Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will be playing a part. 

Yesterday, Dame Kiri walked out on stage herself, to serenade journalists and then reveal that, in a new departure for Downton, her character was based on a real person: the fabled singer Dame Nellie Melba.

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