Why isn’t Downton Abbey on all year round?

It's time Julian Fellowes' hit period drama become a soap opera, says Ellie Walker-Arnott


I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that it’s been almost exactly five months since Downton Abbey was last on our screens. I can’t be the only one who has been counting.


And then we only got two hours. Take away ITV’s ad breaks and that’s little more than a meagre 100 minutes of the Crawleys and their upper class strife.

It’s just not enough. Some of us are getting withdrawal symptoms here. And other telly just doesn’t scratch the same itch.

So I’ve reached the only logical conclusion: It’s time Downton Abbey became a soap opera.

Forget eight measly episodes a year. Forget talk of season five being the last. It’s time Downton Abbey followed in the footsteps of Coronation Street or Casualty and gave us instalments on a weekly basis. Minimum.

Now I’m sure Julian Fellowes could list plenty of reasons why turning Downton into a year-round serial wouldn’t work. But there are plenty of reasons why it would be entirely possible, too.

Plot-wise it pretty much is a soap already. Downton is the master of melodrama. Whether a servant has been killed or Lord Grantham’s dinner shirt has gone astray, that lot know how to pull a shocked expression. (See above for evidence.)

And there is jeopardy in each episode. You know soaps, there’s danger at every cobbled corner. Look away while you’re at the Abbey and someone’s slipping some slippery slippery soap under your foot, blackmailing you, forging your handwriting, pushing you in front of a bus or leaking your scandalous secret to the national press.

When it comes to soap tropes, they’ve already perfected the Christmas Day death (Matthew Crawley, may he rest in peace), the cliffhanger ending, the wedding gone wrong.

There are currently plenty of juicy storylines to kick off with, too. A Green the valet, whodunnit. Branson and Sarah Bunting’s star-crossed lovers. Lady Edith and her illegitimate baby living with the pig man. I’ve never actually watched it, but that sounds like a classic episode of Emmerdale to me.

And Downton’s already got a cast the size of your average soap. It’s an ensemble. There are no stand-out stars (asides from Maggie Smith, obviously) and we care about the fate of every single one of them. Plus there’s a dedicated fan base who would tune in without fail no matter how often it airs.


Yep. I know. It just makes sense, doesn’t it?