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Downton Abbey: How I Turned The Show I Love Into My First Book

14/08/2014 16:34 | Updated 22 May 2015

When journalist Emma Rowley sat down to watch the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey - along with everyone else in Britain - she never thought she'd end up writing a book about it.

But her debut Behind The Scenes At Downton Abbey - a revealing insight into show's production - is out now. And here's how Emma did it...

behind the scenes at downton abbey

I was just enjoying Downton as a viewer... when I was approached by the publisher Harper Collins. I'd been in touch with them before and they asked me if I'd be interested in writing a book about Downton.

I used my existing know-how... the project involved a lot of the same skills I use on a day-to-day basis as a journalist. Visiting somewhere, looking at how things work and chatting to everybody. It was a really fun project to work on. I'm used to the world of newspapers where journalists can become quite obsessive over what they do, this was a different world but people were equally as passionate.

It was very a new experience for me... the way they film is really intensive - they do six months on and six months off. It was like entering another world.

Everyone seemed to get on really well... all the cast play this game called Banagrams - there was a lot of mating around. They spend so much time together, but a few are really close in particular. Laura Carmichael and Michelle Dockery who play sisters Mary and Edith are probably closer in real life than they are in the show.

I was surprised about the amount of work that goes into it... they have a guy onset who works as the historical adviser. He sits in suggesting how the cast should stand and walk and decides whether they're following the right rules of the period in the way they behave. When people exit a scene, he'll stop them and say: "You should have taken a hat with you." But that extends to everything, the historical research and the costumes. They don't cut any corners.

Hours and hours can be spent on one thing... the dining room scenes are technically difficult to film and they often have a lot of people in them, with lots of different people talking. They can spend hours if not days filming one scene.

My advice for anyone who's writing their first book is... it's a lot of work. You've got to build up momentum. In non-fiction it's about keeping your ear to the ground and remembering that opportunities lead to more opportunities. A deadline is a deadline and it won't move, you've got to hit them.

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