Julian Fellowes, the writer behind the hit series Downton Abbey, says writing a prequel which follows how the Earl and Countess of Grantham first met is something that he’s working on in that brilliant writing brain of his. Seems as though, however, he has most of it written already based on his recent comments at the Bafta Screenwriters’ Lecture series: “They had a slightly troubled courtship, because she was in love with him before they married, as we know, and he married her entirely for her money. I sort of feel there’s something quite nice in there because he’s a decent cove, and so he feels rather guilty about this which has affected their marriage beyond that“. He talked of the spin-off drama as, obviously, casting a pair of younger actors in the roles, currently played by Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, as his American wife. Originally conceived as a book, Fellowes talked of this now as a series making it to the small screen in a big way.
Before anyone on Planet Earth tries to read into this that there’s some hidden hint that Downton Abbey is coming to an end, Fellowes said any spin-off would be broadcast after the end of the series. “I don’t think you can continue a narrative in more than one area at once,” he explained. Personally, while I’ve never been a huge fan of prequels, time to re-think my position, especially after the recent brilliant Inspector Morse prequel, Endeavour and the Only Fools and Horses Trotter family prequel, Rock and Chips. This one has potential, although trying to think of Downton Abbey, prequel or otherwise, without Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith is a difficult one to imagine. One could only imagine what the Dowager Countess would have to say about this, but I can see ‘that look’….