I know it’s a small thing, but sometimes small things can be the most irritating.
Why, I wondered, watching episode one of the new series with a slice of cake and a glass of red last Sunday, do all the characters in Downton Abbey persist in calling the home of Lord Grantham “The Abbey”?
It was never (as far as I recall) called the Abbey in previous series – always Downton. But now it’s Abbey this and Abbey that…
It’s almost as irritating as some of the sociological exposition we were treated to, the “well women have got a lot more liberated since the war” and “times are changing…oh don’t we know it”, that we had more than our fair share of in the first episode.
And then there was the depressing spectacle of Lady Mary moping around the opening episode (alright, luv, it might never happen, oh, sorry, it has).
And then the penny dropped: had I fallen out of love with Downton Abbey?
How else could I have got this irritated?
Perhaps it’s similar to when you’re in a relationship with a person (as opposed to images broadcast via your set top box).
When you’re in love with someone everything seems to be proof of their absolute wondrousness. Oh, toenail clippings in the sink? You really are a wonderful bohemian, unbound by the strictures of convention and piffling considerations like hygiene, my darling.
But fall out of love with that person? Then the nails in the sink tend to be greeted less charitably, don’t they?
How it happened, I don’t know.
The loss of Matthew probably started it. He wasn’t my favourite character. In fact I found him a rather pompous, colurless bore most of the time. But the way he was dispatched ON CHRISTMAS DAY suggested that ITV and the producers Carnival had temporarily lost sight of what may have pleased and what may have totally pissed off their viewers.
And then what happens in the first episode of series four?
We lose O’Brien – one of the best Downton villains, but one with a hint of yearning, sorrow and psychological complexity underneath the pale, northern scowl. My difficulties coping with this were compounded by the fact that the departure looked rather silly with someone pretending to be her and leaving a note before her midnight flit. I am glad that Siobahn Finneran who plays her is going to return for a little bit later in the series, but couldn’t she have at least filmed her own exit?
And I’m not sure the professional fortunes of the hapless gentleman’s man Molesley is going to grip viewers throughout a whole series.
But, let’s try and look on the bright side.
It is possible to fall back in love with someone, isn’t it?
And it looks like there may be some promising stories bubbling away – although they need to get a good romance going, and fast.
Will Allen Leech’s Branson be the one to provide that? It seems likely. And I gather Lady Mary is going to attract some male attention this series as well. Love is very much in the air and love is the petrol that motors Downton (sorry Matthew).
I mean, even Lady Edith seems to be having all the luck in love these days. She’s fallen for someone who has to divorce his deranged wife by becoming a German citizen. And it’s the 1920s. What could possibly go wrong with that?
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.