Julian Fellowes On Downton Abbey: 'I Behaved Stupidly Over Criticisms'

Julian Fellowes Brought Down By Viewers Reviews

Oscar-winning scriptwriter Julian Fellowes has shown himself to be made of a very English gentility, admitting that criticism of his ITV drama, Downton Abbey got to him.

Despite its huge popularity, with viewing figures topping a phenomenal 11.6 million, Fellowes reveals he lost his sense of humour when rebukes at his anachronisms trickled into the otherwise overwhelming praise.

The Gosford Park writer was lambasted for using words such as "boyfriend" in the Edwardian drama, starring Hugh Boneville and Dame Maggie Smith.

After getting into something of a sulk over the remarks, he's now admitted: ""I behaved rather stupidly about the criticisms."

Fellowes brought his master-servant expertise to the small screen with such aplomb that the second series of Downton Abbey, due to air this autumn, is already the most highly anticipated drama of the year.

Indeed, Ladies Mary, Sybil and Edith Crawley are already gracing the pages of Vogue in dramatic designer couture. This certainly isn't usual protocol for ITV1 drama publicity - when was the last time you saw the cast of Midsomer Murders lining up for a glossy against their Farrow & Ball interiors?

Speaking to The Telegraph, Fellowes explained: "I allowed them to irritate me, but really they were a tribute to how much the nation took Downton to their hearts. There was also an assumption in the media that the complainant was automatically correct and we were wrong, which was frustrating."

It turns out it's those complaining viewers who stand corrected - much to Fellowes delight - as the first use of "boyfriend" was printed in 1889, some time before Fellowes' drama, set in 1912.

Fellowes claimed this year he might write a column where he can react to criticism saying, "It's a fair cop" or "No, we got it right, actually they did wear bathing costumes in 1761."

He reasoned: "When there was a television aerial in a shot, as there was once, I was happy to hold my hands up, but I expended a lot of energy getting agitated about accusations that such-and-such piece of music wasn't released until 1922, when in fact it was being played in 1910.

"Or the butler should have been in uniform when they came out of uniform in the Regency period - I mean, just shut up!"


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