Channel: Oh No They Didn't!
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Dowton Chrismtas special promo!!! Plus an article about filming in Scotland and some more pictures.

McDownton! It's the TV event of Christmas... and we've been given a sneak preview - by the Scottish aristocrats whose stately home bagged a starring role

lol. I mostly included this picture because I thought the family was cute, tbh.

It is 8 o’clock on Christmas Day and the family is in a festive slump in front of the television, waiting for a highlight of the day – the Downton Abbey Special.

On screen, however, the action is set in high summer and the plotlines are dramatic, with naughty new girl, Lady Rose, taking centre stage as she is packed off to Scotland.

In a series of exclusive pictures, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the manicured lawns of Downton have been swapped for the granite walls of Inveraray Castle.

The Crawley family and staff follow the example set by the doughty Dowager Countess, played by Dame Maggie Smith, who decides they should visit her cousin, the Marquess of Flintshire, while keeping an eye on Lady Rose.

The castle is the real-life home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, who have offered us an intriguing glimpse into the film-making process and give their thoughts on having the crew and stars as guests for several weeks over the summer.

And they provide some tantalising details about the difference in the way the fictional Lord Grantham and his clan are portrayed and the more simple way their family lives in the stately pile today.

The Duke and Duchess, themselves big Downton fans, were thrilled when Inveraray, set between the seashore of Loch Fyne and the Grampians in the Highland mountains, was chosen as the backdrop for the popular programme.

‘The series makers wanted somewhere rugged, a Scottish castle with rolling water and hills,’ says Eleanor, the Duchess of Argyll, who lives in the 17-bedroom castle with her husband, Torquhil, the 13th duke.

‘We were avid fans – although we had to wait to get to see the first season. Scottish TV didn’t think we would want to watch it, but there was an outcry here.’ Once the castle was chosen, the Argylls were caught up in a whirlwind of cast and crew meetings.

‘It was like getting through to the finals,’ says Eleanor, 39. ‘At first, there were just two or three location teams. But at the last site visit, we had about 40 people: artistic directors, lighting people, props people, directors . . .

‘It meant that when the cast arrived on set, everyone knew what was going on.’

While the story line is shrouded in secrecy, what we do know is that Lady Edith’s married admirer, the newspaper editor Michael Gregson, turns out to be holidaying near to Duneagle Castle.

His continued dalliance with Lady Edith causes a row between Matthew Crawley and his wife Lady Mary, who disagree about his intentions towards her. ‘In some scenes we see Cora [Oscar-nominated Elizabeth McGovern] waltzing in a tiara at the ghillies ball,’ says Eleanor. ‘Matthew Crawley has also been seen wrestling with a fishing rod and shooting a rifle in the grounds.’

Before filming, the Argylls were invited to lunch with the actors at Ealing Studios, where the servants’ quarters are filmed.

‘They were charming,’ says Eleanor. ‘Especially Rob James-Collier, the actor who plays conniving footman Thomas, which rather threw us. I told him I had wanted to hate him.’
Keen to know what to expect, Eleanor had gone to watch Downton being filmed at Highclere, home of the Earl of Carnarvon.

‘Lady Carnarvon was very helpful. I wanted to see what happens when the cast and crew are in your house. The stuff you need to protect. She told me, “It’s the little things. Like there will be lots of people using your water supply and electricity.” Things I hadn’t thought of.

‘I had never been on a film set before. We sat on those red sofas as they filmed in the drawing room. I hadn’t realised every scene has to be filmed from about 17 different angles. I met Cora and Lord Grantham [Hugh Bonne-ville], who were delightful.’

To the Argylls’ deep disappointment, the weeks chosen for filming clashed with their annual two-week stay on the island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides. So the couple had to make do with daily updates from Alastair Bruce, Downton’s historical adviser and an old friend of the Argylls who is also a Queen’s Herald, a former Scots Guards officer and an equerry to Prince Edward.

‘Alastair phoned us daily to let us know what was happening. It was all a great secret, but some of the guests staying with us became very suspicious. One would crouch outside the door with his ear to the keyhole, hoping to overhear the plot.

‘I didn’t know what to do, so eventually I told him Wallander was being filmed at the castle. I told him the makers thought the mountains and the loch at Inveraray looked better than Norway. He spent hours on the internet trawling Scotland and Wallander.’

While the cast were in town, they socialised at the pubs. Brendan Coyle, who plays valet John Bates and has Scottish ancestors, was so enamoured of Inveraray, he had two kilts made up in the redshanks at the local kilt-makers.

Torquhil, 44, who is head of his clan and owns 60,000 acres of land in Scotland, had to give permission for the Flintshires and Granthams to use the bluey-grey Campbell tartan. And a local piper, who played at Eleanor and Torquhil’s wedding, was also featured in some scenes.

For viewers, Downton Abbey is an escapist fantasy – a heady world of magnificent ‘upstairs’ frocks, dreary ‘downstairs’ drudgery and, for the Crawleys, a cossetted life in which their every whim is catered for by their put-upon staff. For Eleanor and Torquhil and their three children, Archie, Marquess of Lorne, eight, Lord Rory, six, and Lady Charlotte, four, the reality of aristocratic life in the 21st Century is vastly different from the gilded idyll portrayed by Downton creator Julian Fellowes.

‘The big difference between then and now is staff,’ said Torquhil, who is brand manager for Chivas Regal Whisky when he isn’t managing the estate. ‘My grandmother had 30 people living in the castle and we used to have a huge team of gardeners. The kitchen garden would provide for the castle, but now we buy from the supermarket. And we have lots of machinery to do the work. We run it on a skeleton staff and I am chef most of the time.

‘Torquhil is a much better cook than I am,’ explains Eleanor. ‘He lived in Hong Kong so he can do sushi and amazing curries.

‘There probably are people who still have masses of staff like in Downton Abbey, but let’s face it, they are not British.’ While the vacuum cleaner, food processor and washing machine have, it seems, taken the place of kitchen staff Daisy and Mrs Patmore, the Argylls do have a nanny and a couple who do ‘everything from the security to the dusting.

‘But I clean the chandeliers myself,’ Eleanor admits. ‘I make our beds. I make the children’s beds. And Torquhil certainly doesn’t have a valet to put his coat on for him. Mind you, he doesn’t have to dress in white tie every night. He mows the lawn too. When the children get up in the morning, we have Shreddies in the kitchen,’ she adds, ‘which is also where the children do their homework.

‘Torquhil’s mother [The Dowager Duchess, Iona] had a cook so she used the dining room more, but Torquhil’s grandmother used the Mrs Patmore-type kitchen in the basement, which we now show to tourists.

‘These days, we only use the State Dining Room for Christmas Day or when we have a corporate event. Normally, we use a smaller dining room.’ Today, corporate events and tourism are the lifeblood of a house such as Inveraray.

Some 75,000 visitors look round the castle each year and corporate clients pay to be wined, dined and steeped in Clan Campbell grandeur, with Torquhil and Eleanor, their hosts, dressed in their clan tartan.

Sadly, however, there is no family tiara for Eleanor: ‘It was sold by Torquhil’s grandfather to pay a gambling debt,’ she explains. The biggest recent outlay for the Argylls was having central heating installed a few years ago.

‘In the past, each room would have a fire or two and that in itself required a great deal of manpower,’ says Torquhil. ‘Instead of lighting them, we just put on more jerseys.’

They’ve also just put in 12 bathrooms. ‘Before that there were only four and only enough water for one hot bath. You had to run like mad to grab it,’ says Eleanor. The Crawleys would certainly have understood.

lInveraray Castle (inveraray-castle.com) is open to the public between April 1 and October 31.

LINK TO THE DOWNTON ABBEY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL PRVIEW! - I can't embed it because the tumblr video player is the worst. But you should watch it anyway.

Lord Grantham + Lord Flintshire in their hunting gear, I think?


A line up of manly men being manly or something. Idek.

source for the pics + article

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