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Downton Abbey


Stars: Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Allen Leech, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Imelda Staunton, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Rob James-Collier, Joanne Froggatt, Kevin Doyle, Michael Fox, Sophie McShera, Penelope Wilton, Stephen Campbell Moore, Tuppence Middleton, Brendan Coyle, Matthew Goode, Kate Phillips

Director: Michael Engler

A triple episode of the iconic TV series masquerading as a feature film, this, for all its absurdities, makes for as throughly good an evening's entertainment as fans could wish, even if it fails to advance its characters much, and leans heavily on the bon mots of Dame Maggie as the dowager countess of the lordly family who live at the eponymous edifice.

Even so, devotees of the series will be happy to see most of the familiar characters given a fair slice of the pie, as the storyline revolves around a one-night visit to Downton by the king and queen of 1927 England.

The biggest slice, though, probably goes to Tom Branson (Leech), the Irish ex-chauffeur, now the widowed son-in-law of the Earl of Grantham (Bonneville); he's approached by Captain Chetwode (Campbell Moore) who, being one of the film's guest stars, is clearly not here to be a bystander at the forthcoming King's parade.

Tom, widowed now for seven years, also finds himself attracted to Lucy (Middleton), lady's maid to Lady Bagshaw, the queen's chief lady-in-waiting - who intends to settle old scores with Smith's dowager countess while she's here.

Then of course there is the downstairs crew, which is where the real absurdities come in, as, led by Mr and Mrs Bates (Coyle, Froggatt), plus the indispensable Carson (Carter) and his now-wife, housekeeper Mrs Hughes (Logan), they conspire to whisk dinner duties from under the noses of the king's butler and chef. All this chicanery for one night!

But, as the familiar music sweeps us from one incident to another, there's always Dame Maggie's next waspish remark to treasure. 'Do you have enough cliches to get you through the visit?' demands the dowager countess of her crony/adversary Baroness Merton (Wilton). 'If not,' comes the frosty reply, 'I'll come to you.'

David Quinlan

UK 2019. UK Distributor: Universal (Focus). Colour by Panalux.
121 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 11 Sep 2019