After three seasons as a hit show on both sides of the Atlantic, Downtown Abbey has been commodified.
Both the show and its stars are now hot properties, used to sell everything from wine to heritage tours to magazines to lipstick.
Downton leading lady Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary Crawley on the popular British series, is the cover girl on the August issue of the U.K. edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Her interview is also available on the magazine’s U.S. web site. (She was on the cover of the May 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, but had to share the space with American TV stars Julianna Margulies, Claire Danes and Sofia Vergara.)
Asked by Harper’s about the show’s appeal, especially to American audiences, she said, “I think some period drama can be quite alienating, but Downton isn’t. This is going to sound quite, um, pretentious, but someone said that it’s like a soap written by a poet.”
Here’s a video in which Dockery chats about the show and her costumes with Harper’s features director Laura Brown:
In other Downton news:
· British retailer Marks & Spencer is introducing a 10-piece line of Downton Abbey-branded products including lip balm and lipstick, bath oil, soap, a scented candle and nail polish. Yes, you too, can now wear rouge fit for a Dowager Countess or lipstick bright enough to wake Matthew Crawley from the dead. According to the Daily Mail, the new line will be available at M&S stores across the U.K., priced between £5 for the lip balm to £49.50 for a gift set (that’s $7.44 to $73.67).
· Actor Brendan Coyle, who plays valet John Bates on the show, said in an interview with The Telegraph that, while it’s great that the Downton is so popular and has led to attractive career opportunities for him, he’s bemused by the recognition he now gets, including while shopping for groceries: “Most people are really pleasant and it’s not that intrusive,” he said. “But you know you pose for photographs and sign things and people will come up and go, ‘Are you the guy off the telly? Can I have your autograph?’ And I’m saying you don’t know my name, you don’t know the name of the show I’m in but you want me to sign your Tesco receipt?”
· Hints of plots to come: Downton executive producer Gareth Neame hinted to Entertainment Weekly’s Inside TV column that misbehaving teen Lady Rose MacClare (played by Lily James), who was introduced late in Season 3, will embark on additional amorous adventures in the coming season. The most likely candidate to be the object of her affections? Jack Ross (played by Gary Carr), an American jazz singer–and the show’s first black character–whom Rose will meet in a London nightclub. “We know she’s a bit of a wild child, right? She’s a bit rebellious, and she likes the boyfriends,” Neame said teasingly. His remarks came after photos surfaced in the British press of James and Carr in a row boat together while filming scenes for the show (click here to see the pictures in the Daily Mail).
· Former Downton hottie Dan Stevens, who ditched his role as Matthew Crawley at the end of the show’s third season, writes a monthly column of musings for The Telegraph. His latest offering is a partial rant about his recent inability to buy a late afternoon cup of coffee in London. “Who in God’s name turns their coffee machines off at 5 p.m.? ‘Sorry, sir, there’s not much demand for it over here after 5, so we turn it off,’ I was told recently,” he writes. “Well that’s precisely why you’re closing early. I’m demanding coffee, now, because I need it. Yes, I know it’s 6 p.m., which is normally when you might be halfway through a chilled sauvignon blanc, but I am a coffee drinker and I want coffee. Tonight.” Good thing that he and his wife and two children have taken up temporary residence in Brooklyn, where one can counting on being able to find a cup of joe available 24/7.
Downton Abbey’s new season begins airing in September in the U.K. on ITV and in January in the U.S. on PBS.
Might you be tempted to plunk down your hard-earned cash for Downton Abbey-brand soap or lipstick?