There’s long been talk of a film version of ‘Downton Abbey’ coming to our screens, and now one of its stars may have just dropped the biggest hint yet that the wheels on the bus of the movie are beginning to turn.
Jim Carter, who played the backbone of the series, head butler Mr Carson, was talking to the new Radio Times about a brand new documentary he’s made for Radio 4. He revealed during the chat that production of the programme had taken place while he was “in Hollywood on Downton business”.
As far as we know, there isn’t (yet) a Downton Abbey convention anywhere in the world that would require Jim Carter to dress up in his morning suit and meet thousands of the show’s fans, and all the extra-curricular business of the show – DVDS, merchandise – has long been taken care of, so… what could it be?
The success of the show has made Jim easily recognisable in Los Angeles, with people coming up to him all the time, saying they wished life were like the upstairs and downstairs world depicted in the show.
Jim, however, says: “I wouldn’t want to be a butler, standing around posh people who don’t know how to feed themselves. Invent a buffet, help yourselves!”
Jim isn’t the first of the show’s many stars to mention, in passing, the prospect of appearing in the film of the hit drama that spanned seven series and enjoyed huge critical claim in the US, earning a record number of award nominations for a non-US series.
However, there’s one person who’s adamant she won’t be taking part, and that’s the Dowager.
Dame Maggie Smith, who played the Dowager Countess of Grantham through six series of the global hit period drama, revealed previously that she thought any plans for a big screen feature version of the show were tantamount to “overkill”.
The Oscar and Emmy-winning actress told the BFI & Radio Times TV Festival: “I think it’s squeezing it dry, do you know what I mean?”
And she added that the plots were, in her opinion, “too meandering” to work in a 90-minute silver screen format. She reflected: “I don’t know what it could possibly be.”
However, she did have one thought about how any feature film version might work. She suggested it could start with the funeral of her character:
“I could croak it, and it would just start with my body.”
Despite everyone’s enthusiasm, writer Lord Julian Fellowes would have to come up with something pretty good for the leap to the big screen. The show’s finale, which aired in 2015, appeared to tie off many loose ends, including the marriages of Lady Mary and Lady Edith, a much longed for baby for servants Anna and Bates, and the belated union of downstairs bosses Carson and Mrs Hughes.
Read the full interview with Jim Carter in this week’s Radio Times.