A question I am most often asked is why is Downton Abbey so successful? If I knew the magic formula I would bottle it and keep it going for Highclere!
Downton is about a family, Highclere / Downton is where they both live and work. It is romantic, nostalgic, there are some great lines, engaging characters, and it clearly illustrates there are mean and kind people in all parts of life. It has happy moments, the potential for love and yet the family has to grieve as well. There is little violence. Perhaps the ups and downs and bonds of a family are what we all hope for in our own lives?
Next I admit to prejudice. The star of the show doesn’t speak, but the presence and beauty of Highclere Castle, our home, stands central to the series. It dominates the episodes, reflecting moods and reinforcing the action. In a comforting way, it does not change.
Highclere was built to inspire at the centre of an Arcadian landscape and from any angle or any light it never has a bad day.
My working title for one of my books was “A sense of place”. America is a young country, although an old land, and the quest for belonging seems often to be not quite settled. Highclere has 1,300 years of history in exactly the same place. So perhaps for American viewers it is a glimpse to a tangible past, something to give us all continuity as we try to make sense of our own lives.
I am in States for a book tour for much of February, beginning in Nashville before heading to Virginia – where my latest heroine Catherine’s forbears came from- and then up the EastCoast. It should be fascinating and great to hear and speak with fans about our home and the series.