The least complicated woman in Lord Grantham's life, Isis
Lord Grantham is surrounded by women on Downton Abbey, but Isis was the cuddliest, most loyal and least complicated of them all. Each episode of Downton opens with Isis’ behind, tail wagging her way toward the manor. She is the audience’s best friend.
The dog in the opening shot is actually Pharaoh, the first dog of Downton who appeared in 2010. Pharoh’s real name was Roly. But one of Lady Carnarvon’s male Labradors, Percy, would not tolerate the presence of another male dog in its territory – Carnarvon’s the real owner of the estate where Downton is filmed. Carnarvon wondered why the producers didn’t just use her dogs in the first place since the are always running around the estate.
Pictured are two of Lady Carnarvon’s Spaniels, a Terrier, and one of the Labs. During most of the series, cast brought their own dogs to set, but Lady Carnavon banned cast members’ dogs after they “ran riot” in parts of the house.
So Pharaoh died off between Season 1 and 2 and was replaced by Ellie who started playing Isis. Originally the producers of Downton were going to keep the replacement a secret. Hugh Bonneville, right on the money, said Downton viewers would instantly spot the difference and complain! Pharoh played by Roly was a male whereas Isis played by Ellie was a female. So the back story was created that Pharaoh died and the Crawleys got a new dog called Isis.
Bonneville shared another secret about Ellie – her tendency to cause expensive damage. Roly sat calmly staring at his owner while on set, but Ellie’s constant tail wagging kept knocking over antiques! Maybe that’s why she was eventually replaced by Abbie the lab starting in Season 3.
Matthew and Mary get engaged:
Who can forget this snowy romantic moment, a Christmas miracle. We wondered if it would ever actually happen, but it finally did once Lavinia died of the Spanish flu and boorish Sir Carlisle was sent packing. Matthew gets down on one knee while the Servant’s Ball rages on inside. And finally the moment we’d all been waiting for was worth all that waiting. Until yet another memorable and shocking Downton Christmas Special moment…
Imagine if your own mother said this about you: “Be kind to her, she has so few advantages.” That’s exactly what Lady Cora said about her daughter Edith.
Lady Edith speaks her mind at dinner.
Laura Carmichael plays Lady Edith on Downton Abbey, the classic middle sister: boring, undervalued and overlooked. In the early days of Downton, Edith is always eclipsed by her sisters: charismatic Lady Mary and the pretty and daring Lady Sybil. But make no mistake, Edith has a dark side and isn’t above seeking both revenge and attention, most notably by ruining Mary’s reputation after revealing her tryst with the Turk.
What does the creator of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, have to say about some weighty issues of late, like the rape of Anna, the end of Downton Abbey and historical inaccuracies…
Farewell Dan Stevens...
Shock and awe surrounded the death of Matthew Crawley at the end of Season Three. At Downton Abbey Online, we certainly got our fair share of sad and angry letters. We gently reminded viewers that sometimes actors determine the plot of television shows, as was the case with the death of Matthew Crawley. The actor who played Matthew Crawley, Dan Stevens, wanted to leave the show and there was nothing Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes could do about it except write him out of the show.
Julian Fellowes explains that in America, it’s quite common for an actor to sign onto a series for five to seven years. In England, you can only sign an actor like Dan Stevens up for three years. Thanks to the success of Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens was offered opportunities too good to refuse and wanted out. Fellowes harbours no ill will against Stevens, remembering he did something very similar during his early theatre days in London.
But why was Matthew’s death so grisly?
If a servant actor wants to leave the show, Fellowes writes the script to include a job offer in Dublin or India, in the case of nasty O’Brien. But if a family actor wants to leave Downton Abbey’s cast, their exit must be final or it’s simply not believable. A family member like Matthew wouldn’t leave Downton for any other reason except death. And because Dan Steven’s exit in real life was final, there needed to be no doubt among viewers that he would return. Hence, the grisly final death scene.
Season 4 of Downton Abbey opens six months after Matthew’s death, after the shock wears off. Presumably, nobody really wants to see Mary grieve for an entire season. And halfway through the first episode, Mary changes out of her black clothes and feels some degree of closure. Mary decides to live without Matthew Crawley, and so do we…
Lady Mary becomes a fashion icon