• Although Robert and Cora Crawley both have blue eyes, their daughter, Mary, has brown eyes. This was thought biologically impossible in the Davenport Model (1907), although not very common, two blue-eyed parents can produce children with brown eyes. Eye color is a complex trait that depends on the state of several interacting genes. The gene that usually decides the issue (blue eyes or brown eyes) is the OCA2 gene on chromosome 15. But it comes in different strengths. A person with a weak form of the OCA2 gene will have blue eyes. Likewise a person with a strong form will have brown eyes, but individuals also have other eye-color genes that each has a say in the final eye-color outcome. For example, if one of these lesser genes is strong, it can make the weak form (blue) of OCA2 work much more effectively - almost like the strong form (brown). Then the eye color may be brown. In fact, the resulting color can be any shade of brown, hazel, green or blue depending on the interactions.
Julian Fellowes' inspiration for his original story came from authors such as Edith Wharton ("The Buccaneers") and close friend Henry James's general research of the novel's time period and subject matter. He also sourced the 1989 book "To Marry an English Lord". Elizabeth McGovern's character Cora, was the first one that he developed.
Maggie Smith (Lady Violet) were written for the actors that played them.
Dan Stevens' intentions to leave the show until it was too late into the Mary/ Matthew storyline, so the only option he had was to kill him to write him out of the show.
• Julian Fellowes revealed in an interview that the story of Pamuk dying and being dragged back to his room was based off a diary entry found in Highclere Castle during one of his stays at the house. He is good friends with the current Earl and Countess.
• Hugh Bonneville quote [on the appeal of Downton Abbey (2010)]: "It's Breaking Bad (2008) with tea instead of meth."
• Lady Mary's Michelle Dockery is also an accomplished jazz singer.
Jim Carter, who you may not have known is married to Imelda Staunton.
• Young George Crawley is played by twin boys, Oliver and Zac Barker.
Smith said she’s too much of a perfectionist to actually watch herself on-screen.
“It’s frustrating. I always see things I would do differently and think, ‘Oh, why in the name of God did I do that?’” Smith said.
The 78-year-old actress [born 1934] — who has won three Emmy Awards, two Oscars, and a Tony — also said that her acting style can scare many of her co-workers.
“You’re trying to say that I am what everybody says ... I’m scary — and I understand totally,” Smith said. “Old people are scary, and I have to face it, I am old, and I am scary, and I am very sorry about it, but I don’t know what you do.”
• The opera singer appears in the fourth series of the period drama, which begins in the autumn, and heralds the start of the Roaring Twenties by performing two pieces as the Australian operatic soprano, one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era, during a house party thrown by the Earl of Grantham.
Producer Gareth Neame revealed that her appearance on set had created such a "buzz" that everyone working on the show had rushed to watch her perform.
"It was the sight of all these tough electricians and grips and all the people you see on a film set with tears in their eyes and wiping a tear away," he said at the season launch in central London. "It was quite a special day." - source
Dame Kiri Janette Te Kanawa (born 1944) is a New Zealand soprano.
She played Dame Nellie Melba (1861 – 1931), born Helen Porter Mitchell, was an Australian operatic soprano. She became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era and the early 20th century. She was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician. She took the pseudonym "Melba" from Melbourne, her home town.
That would have created an odd situation, she agrees — a "Downton Abbey" cookbook with no Downton Abbey cook.
"They asked me if they could put my name on a meat recipe and I said that would not be good, because I'm active with animal rights,” she says. “So they found a vegetable dish. It all worked out."
“I was walking my dogs in the park and a woman ran over and hugged me," she says. She laughs. “We're British. We just don't do that.” - source
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Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham: "What is a weekend?"
[at dinner table when Matthew is talking about his freetime on the weekend (Episode 1.2)]
Lady Violet: One can’t go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We’d all be in a constant state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper.
Lady Violet: I don't dislike him. I just don't like him, which is quite different.
Lady Violet: The truth is neither here nor there. It's the look of the thing that matters.
Lady Violet: A change is as good as a rest.
Lady Violet: I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.
Edith Crawley: Oh Granny! Thank you!
Lady Violet: And another thing. I mean, Edith isn't getting any younger. Perhaps she isn't cut out for domestic life.
Carson: Hard work and diligence weigh more than beauty in the real world.
Lady Violet: If only that were true.
Dr. Clarkson: You want me to lie?
Lady Violet: “Lie” is so unmusical a word.
Lady Violet [to Isobel Crawley]: Just because you’re an old widow, I see no necessity to eat off a tray.
Lady Violet: If I were to ever search for logic I wouldn't look for it among the English upper class.
Lady Violet: I'm afraid Tom's small talk is very small indeed!
Robert Crawley: Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde.
Violet Crawley: That's a relief.
Evelyn Napier: Is this your first experience of jazz, Lady Crawley?
Lady Violet: Oh, is that what it is? [pause] Do you think that any of them know what the others are playing?
Season 4 series 8
Lady Violet: Oh, what about, particularly?
Anthony Gillingham: My life, I suppose.
Isobel Crawley: Everyone should, from time to time.
Lady Violet: Oh, I can't agree. In my experience it's a dangerous occupation.
Isobel Crawley: Dangerous?
Lady Violet: Well, no life appears rewarding if you think too much about it.
Lady Violet: Rosamund has no interest in French. If she wishes to be understood by a foreigner, she shouts.
Lady Violet: Switzerland has everything to offer, except perhaps conversation. And one can learn to live without that.
Edith Crawley: Sometimes I feel that God doesn't want me to be happy.
Lady Violet: My dear, all life is a series of problems which we must try and solve. You know, first one, then the next and the next, until at last we die... [sighing] Why don't you get us an ice cream?
Lady Violet: I won't take sides, it's true. But I don't think I could ever be described as "neutral".
A commentator, about the tv-series ending:
"Dame Maggie Smith herself said that she would not return for another season because the time frame would become unrealistic given her character's age. She also believes the show has come to its natural end. That is one of the joys of British television, given a choice between arbitrary longevity and money on one side and artistic integrity on the other, the Brits always lean toward the art."
additional sources: 1, 2, 3, 4
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