We’re still waiting for definite news about the Downton Abbey movie, but this might just be the next best thing.
Variety reports that NBC has ordered ten episodes of The Gilded Age, a new drama from Downton creator Julian Fellowes.
That’s reason enough to be excited, of course. As well as introducing us to the Crawleys, Julian is also the Oscar-winning writer behind Gosford Park, The Young Victoria and Doctor Thorne, so we know we’ve got a solid historical drama on our hands.
This time, though, the action is set a little bit closer to home. It follows the story of Marian Brook, a young American woman whose conservative family isn’t keen on their “new money” neighbors in 1880s New York City. Characters include a “ruthless railroad tycoon” called George Russell, his “ambitious” wife Bertha, and his “rakish and available” son Larry.
Is it just us, or can you picture them already?
And that’s not all. No casting details have been released yet, but there is reason to believe we’ll see some familiar faces. Downton obsessives will know that Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) was an American heiress from Cincinnati, who travelled to England in 1888 to meet and marry a member of the British nobility.
That puts her squarely in the right period for this new show, which is set 30 years before the events of Downton Abbey. Julian has previously hinted that a young Cora may pop up in The Gilded Age, as well as a teenage Robert Crawley and (wait for it…) his mother, Violet, a.k.a the indomitable Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Dame Maggie Smith.
And if indeed Violet did once visit America, one of her famously acerbic lines from the hit show suggests the trip didn’t go well:
Violet: “I’m so looking forward to seeing [Cora’s] mother again. When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.”
Matthew: “But isn’t she American?”
Ouch. Cora’s mom was played by the fabulous Shirley MacLaine, and proved a hilarious foil for the Countess.
Julian has clearly been intrigued by the links between American and British history in that period for a long time. In fact, he’s gone so far as to say writing The Gilded Age is the “fulfillment of a personal dream.”
“I have been fascinated by this period of American history for many years,” he was quoted as saying in the press release, “and now NBC has given me the chance to bring it to a modern audience. I could not be more excited and thrilled.
“The truth is, America is a wonderful country with a rich and varied history, and nothing could give me more pleasure than being the person to bring that compelling history to the screen.”
Expect The Gilded Age on our screens in 2019 — and fingers crossed we get to see Violet navigate 1880s New York.
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