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 era—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 paté. 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.