Downton Abbey is a British historical drama television series set in the early 20th century, created and co-written by Julian Fellowes. The series first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom on 26 September 2010, and in the United States on PBS, which supported production of the series as part of its Masterpiece Classic anthology, on 9 January 2011.
The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1926, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the post-Edwardian era—with the great events of the time having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the Titanic in the first series; the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second series; the Irish War of Independence leading to the formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth series; the British general election of 1923 and the Beer Hall Putsch in the fifth series. The sixth and final series introduces the rise of the working class during the interwar period and hints at the eventual decline of the British aristocracy.
Downton Abbey has received acclaim from television critics and won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. It was recognised by Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011. It earned the most nominations of any international television series in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, with twenty-seven in total (after the first two series). It was the most watched television series on both ITV and PBS, and subsequently became the most successful British costume drama series since the 1981 television serial of Brideshead Revisited.
On 26 March 2015, Carnival Films and ITV announced that the sixth series would be the last. It aired on ITV between 20 September 2015 and 8 November 2015. The final episode, serving as the annual Christmas special, was broadcast on 25 December 2015.
A film adaptation Downton Abbey, serving as a continuation of the series, was subsequently released in the United Kingdom on 13 September 2019, and in the United States on 20 September 2019.
The main cast of the Crawley family:
-Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham
-Elizabeth McGovern as his wife Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham.
Their three daughters:
-Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley (Talbot),
-Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley (Pelham)
-Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil Crawley (Branson).
-Maggie Smith as Robert Crawley's mother Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham.
-Samantha Bond as Lady Rosamund Painswick, Robert's sister who resides in Belgrave Square, London.
-Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley, the new heir of Downton Abbey, and later husband of Lady Mary Crawley
-Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley, mother of Matthew Crawley
-Allen Leech as Tom Branson, the chauffeur and later husband of Lady Sybil
-David Robb as Dr Richard Clarkson, the local town doctor.
Highclere Castle in north Hampshire is used for exterior shots of Downton Abbey and most of the interior filming. The kitchen, servants' quarters and working areas, and some of the "upstairs" bedrooms were constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios. Bridgewater House in the St James area of London served as the family's London home.
Outdoor scenes are filmed in the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire.
The opening music of Downton Abbey, titled "Did I Make the Most of Loving You?", was composed by John Lunn.
The rights to broadcast Downton Abbey have been acquired in over 220 countries and territories, and the series is viewed by a global audience of an estimated 120 million people.