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Downton Abbey: The Movie? No Thanks

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The Sun reports that Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes was "virtually mobbed" by film executives after the show picked up a major award at the Golden Globes on Sunday. From the tone of the article, it sounds like a movie version of the ITV drama is pretty much a certainty, and one that we should all be thrilled about.

Well, you can count me out.

It's not that I doubt the skills of Fellowes (or should we say Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, for that is his formal title, fact fans...), who after all wrote the excellent Gosford Park.

But just because both Downton and Gosford feature stately homes filled with aristocratic types (including the wonderful Maggie Smith in both), doesn't mean they're the same type of drama. Far from being a dark, cinematic comedy, Downton Abbey is in fact The Archers, with a bigger costume budget, less farming and more scenes that take place around a ridiculously long dining room table, with everyone in black tie even though it's only an average Tuesday. Their dry-cleaning bill must be ginormous.

My point is, Downton Abbey is a soap opera - and not a gritty one like EastEnders, but an incredibly comfortable, family-friendly one. Don't get me wrong - I love it. But I love it in the way that I love my slippers, or a cuddle from a grandmother, or a custard cream dipped in a cup of tea. Not one of these things could tempt me to travel to a cinema and hand over the best part of a tenner. Downton Abbey is cosy, Sunday evening viewing; it's designed not to challenge our tired brains before they return to work. Nothing about it is dark or exciting. It's just a lovely cuddle of a programme.

Is that really what you go to the cinema for?

For me, the chances of it making a decent movie rest on Fellowes including some or all of the following in the plot:

1. A psychopath. Evil Thomas definitely has potential in this area. In the Christmas episode, he secretly locked the Earl of Grantham's dog in a shed so that he could impress everyone by finding it. The results were totally anticlimactic - the dog escaped, and no one was any the wiser. Come on, Fellowes. Haven't you seen Fatal Attraction? A dog in a saucepan could be just the thing to develop Thomas from the Irritating Smirking Servant to the Full-Blown Homicidal Maniac he was born to be.

2. Sex scenes. Nothing explicit, but for God's sake, if the best romantic interest you can come up with is wet-lettuce Anna giving boring Bates closed-mouth kisses in the pantry, then I'm not coming.

3. More Nigel Havers. And causing more trouble than he did in the Christmas special, where we saw him briefly deceive a cousin whose name I can't remember because we don't care about her. Surely in the film he could impregnate poor unloved Lady Edith, and then make away with the silverware, or something.

4. An alien invasion. Tough one, this, but if anyone can make it stick, Baron Fellowes can.

And now I shall sit back and watch as Fellowes turns a Sunday night ITV drama into a huge worldwide box office hit, which inevitably he will. And then I'll probably relent and see it anyway.

Around the Web

Downton Abbey (TV Series 2010) - IMDb

Downton Abbey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Home | Downton Abbey | ITV

Amazon.com: Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey: Movies & TV

Downton Abbey ITV1 promo - YouTube

Downton Abbey to be turned into a film after Golden Globes win?

'World of Downton Abbey' offers behind-the-scenes view of PBS series

Pass the Tea and the Remote and Put on Your Tiaras

Tour the 'real' Downton Abbey for $12000! (Lunch included)

Downton Abbey Is Downright Brilliant