Downton Abbey

The Regent Centre in Dorset’s Christchurch is a restored 1930s art deco cinema, now also featuring theatre, opera, concerts and dance.

This is where, with Becky and Ian yesterday evening, we viewed the international hit film “Downton Abbey”.

Wikipedia tells us that ‘Downton Abbey is a British historical period drama television series set in the early 20th century, created and co-written by Julian Fellowes. The series first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom on 26 September 2010, and in the United States on PBS, which supported production of the series as part of its Masterpiece Classic anthology, on 9 January 2011.

The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1926, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the post-Edwardian eraβ€”with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the Titanic in the first series; the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second series; the Irish War of Independence leading to the formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth series; and the British general election of 1923, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and the Beer Hall Putsch in the fifth series. The sixth and final series introduces the rise of the working class during the interwar period and hints at the eventual decline of the British aristocracy.

Downton Abbey has received acclaim from television critics and won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. It was recognised by Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011. It earned the most nominations of any international television series in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, with twenty-seven in total (after the first two series).[1] It was the most watched television series on both ITV and PBS, and subsequently became the most successful British costume drama series since the 1981 television serial of Brideshead Revisited.[2]

On 26 March 2015, Carnival Films and ITV announced that the sixth series would be the last. It aired on ITV between 20 September 2015 and 8 November 2015. The final episode, serving as the annual Christmas special, was broadcast on 25 December 2015. A film adaptation, serving as a continuation of the series, was confirmed on 13 July 2018 and released in the United Kingdom on 13 September 2019. The Downton Abbey film was released in the United States on September 20, 2019.’

Having watched the entire TV series with Becky in 2015 it was natural that we should see the film together. I will not reveal the story, save to say that it was set in 1927 when it was becoming more and more difficult for such aristocratic families as the Crawleys to maintain their style of living. Sumptuously filmed with the flawless acting of the original cast and a few additions representing characters I shall leave nameless, the presentation more than lived up to our hopes. It is an excellent portrayal of an era the ending of which was abruptly hastened by the Second World War. There is historical accuracy, drama, tension, intrigue, and humour in spades.

The cinema was justifiably packed – not such a regular occurrence as it had been in the 1930s heyday of this form of entertainment before television took over.

Julian Fellowes, a local man, and a Conservative peer of the House of Lords, is a patron of

Enlargement of this flier can be obtained by accessing the gallery with a click.

Each showing in this run of the film is made in support of the Association. The film is preceded by an appeal by Baron Fellowes and a collection is made in the foyer.

After we left the cinema, Becky drove us all to The Wheel Inn where we enjoyed our dinner. In the car we recounted snippets of the film which I will not reveal. Back at home, both in the evening and again in the morning, we revelled in Maggie Smith’s straight-faced sardonic jousting lines as the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

It was pizza night at The Wheel, Jackie and I both chose the meat feast version. These were excellent, and so large as to overlap the plates on which they were served. They were freshly made by the chef. Ian chose the equally good house burger. Becky’s choice was a salmon and, I think, spinach risotto. We had begun with starters – Jackie and I selected the tempura prawns while our daughter and son-in-law shared a patΓ©. Becky drank Diet Coke, I drank Ringwood’s Best, and Jackie and Ian chose different lagers.

Becky and Ian returned home after lunch this afternoon.

Assisted by Nugget, Jackie planted rows of cyclamen.

Her little hindrance looked askance at the robin food she placed on a stone in the hope that he would be diverted from

his preferred choice of live prey the Head Gardener disturbed for his delectation.

“Where’s Nugget?” (30)

This evening we dined on fish cakes; one with chillis, the other cheese and parsley centred; juicy ratatouille; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which Jackie drank more of the Albarino and I drank more of the Saint-Chinian.

Here is some additional information about the Regent Cinema from Barrie on my Facebook page: Barrie Haynes Julian Fellows was my Lord of the Manor when I lived in Tattershall (Lincs). I was willing to be the last man standing, protecting the ancient village green and butter cross for him against Tesco! In the end Tesco retreated and I lived to fight another day. He is a very nice bloke and his wife, Emma, is charming. I suppose that you could say that the Regent is sort of ‘Art Deco’ but you have no idea how rough it was in the ’60s/’70s, everyone in Christchurch called it The Bug Hutch! It is a very lucky survivor and has also had major structural problems. It was the second cinema built in the town, the first is now the former Royal British Legion building in Bargates. I probably still hold the record for being chucked out of the Regent on a Saturday night during a miss spent youth. I hope the above is of interest.


  1. We saw it too, and thoroughly enjoyed it, Derrick. We especially enjoyed the biting and clever exchanges between Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess and Penelope Wilton’s Isobel Crawley. The two characters have gone from fierce enemies to close friends, but neither has lost her acerbic bite and quick come-backs.

  2. Just prior to its cinema release, I noticed it on Netflix and thought I might like to try watching as I have an odd adoration for British TV and am quite smitten with Doc. Martin (which Netflix removed!) Before I had the chance, Netflix removed it as well! Great luck though that I found it on Amazon prime video so I began the series for the first time. I simply have no guilt at all for completely binge watching it! I was riveted from the very first episode! I havent seen the movie just yet as I’m wanting to wade deeper into the series first but very excited to especially now.?

  3. A wonderful review Derrick, thank you for that. I’m so glad Maggie Smith’s suggestion that the film be based around the Dowagers death and funeral wasn’t taken up. πŸ˜€
    I found Nugget eventually πŸ™‚

  4. I’m probably the only person on the planet who hasn’t watched the Downton Abbey series. I’m sure I would like it, but I don’t watch series television. Your photos of Nugget are wonderful, Derrick! Sadly, I couldn’t find him. Where is Nugget?

  5. What a cute little bird! πŸ™‚ My husband and I are big Downton fans. We watched the entire series and just saw the movie this last Sunday. We loved it! We also had a crowd of people that were clearly familiar with the series as well, so that made it extra fun.

  6. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! It’s a big hit in the U.S., too, and I expect our favorite art Cinema will do very well by the movie. Couldn’t find dear little Nugget.

  7. I spotted Nugget under the bench behind the cane! I am glad you enjoyed the film with Becky and her husband. I love that photo of Nugget surrounded by flowers, including the new cyclamen.

  8. I am sorry to say that I thought that the couple of early episodes of the TV show that I watched were piffle so I stopped watching it. But it has done so well that I don’t suppose that they missed me very much.

  9. Julian Fellowes did an incredible job of writing the Downton Abbey series, he captured the each era so well. He has a new series of something coming out soon but I can’t remember What!

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the film, I am planning on going again for a second viewing.

    On enlarging the picture I found Nugget , he hides himself well.

  10. My attention was immediately taken by the Art Deco theatre. Was the interior restored to Art Deco as well? Very nice photos of Nugget; he looks like a dapper little gentleman.

  11. I never found Nugget!!! Someone has left a clue though and I may go back to look again. Dinner sounds lovely as usual. I will wait for the Downton movie to appear in my iTunes or Amazon movie choices. But you make it sound intriguing.

  12. We are waiting for Downton Abbey in the cinemas here. But I suspect the generation who could have related to the Raj era in our country have already left for the pavilion. I have a collection of P G Wodehouse that I keep reminding myself to finish off. Mr Nugget is under the bench near its front right leg.

  13. Thank you for this great review! I look forward to seeing the movie! πŸ™‚
    I’ve always loved the theatre…films, plays, opera, concerts, orchestras, etc. And some films just HAVE to be seen on the BIG screen as far as I’m concerned! πŸ™‚

    The Art Deco Cinema is beautiful! I love vintage buildings and vintage theatres…inside and out! πŸ™‚

    Ha! Nugget did a good job of hiding this time! But I finally found him under the bench! πŸ™‚
    HUGS!!! πŸ™‚

  14. Great looking theatre, good to hear it is still performing it’s original functions.

    I saw some very similar cyclamen on sale at our local gardening centre only this week, but declined as i have several in large pots that really could do with some thinning down into other pots.

    The shots of nugget are delightful as usual, even if he seems to be somewhat of a fussy eater. Clearly he is not short of a meal while the head gardener is so busy. I loved the description of him as ‘Her Hindrance’ πŸ˜‰

    I had to biggify Where’s Nugget today to find him, he really does fit in with his surroundings well. I hope Jackie did not sit ‘on’ him after collecting her garden accoutrements?

  15. Love the background on Downton Abbey, I am addicted to that show, we had the whole series here on TV and I watched them all, now we have them on CD, love that era, the world was a different place and gentility was part of life, my favourite actor was Carstairs the butler, enjoyed my visit to your post as usual Derrick.

  16. Movies and garden with Nugget–a little bit of everything in this post! Thanks for the additional info about Fellowes and the theater. I’m sure we will have only advertisements and previews at showings here. I look forward to seeing the movie.

  17. So much here that I didn’t know about Downtown! Glad that you enjoyed it so much, Derrick, you’ve really whet my appetire now! We are going on Monday. Delightful photos of Nugget – but is he really in that where’s Nugget shot? Are you sure he didn’t successfully escape this time?!

  18. Thank you for a thorough description of the “Downtown Abbey” series, Derrick. We have just finished watching the first two seasons of “The Crown,” and we are in “the British mood” to continue with another excellent historical saga.

  19. I have never seen any of Downton Abbey but so many of my friends love it. Tara just started watching it too. I’ll need to figure out how to see it, since I don’t have any television connections. I like Ian’s idea: I might just have to get it on CD. Maybe I’ll see the movie twice. Now, while it’s on the big screen, and then again once I’ve completed the series. ha ha. That little spoiled robin turning up his nose at perfectly good food only because he thinks Jackie is going to reveal something better. Good grief.

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