Fabulous clothes, stately homes, social climbing and illicit love relationships: there is nothing like a costume drama for a little escape from the spirit. Belgravia, written by Julian Fellowes and broadcast on Sunday evening on ITV, is only the ticket. However, Fellowes also wrote Downton Abbey and viewers have noticed many similarities between the shows. Here, CLAUDIA CONNELL examines why it could be …
The cast of the new ITV series, Belgravia, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows
Belgravia: The death at the Battle of Waterloo of his only son, Edmund, leaves Peregrine, Earl of Brockenhurst (Tom Wilkinson) with no son to inherit Lymington, home of the family (not to mention a home in Belgravia). Instead, it will pass to his rascal nephew, John Bellasis, played by Adam James.
Downton: With three daughters, the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) has no one to inherit Downton. After his cousin and son descend with the Titanic, he searches the family tree to find a male heir and discovers distant cousin Matthew Crawley.
The Earl of Brockenhurst (left) in Belgravia is played by Tom Wilkinson and Hugh Bonneville (right) plays the Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey. Both remained without heirs after the tragedies
Anne Trenchard (Tamsin Greig) is eager to raise her motherless and illegitimate nephew
SCANDAL OF AN UNLAWFUL CHILD
Belgravia: Anne Trenchard (Tamsin Greig) is longing to bring up her motherless and illegitimate nephew, but her husband James, who fears a scandal, forbids it. The boy, Charles, is adopted by a priest and his wife.
Downtown: Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), daughter of the count and countess, becomes pregnant during a relationship with Michael Gregson, the married editor of the newspaper she works for. Gregson travels to Berlin to try to obtain German citizenship to get a divorce and marry Edith, but is killed during a failed Nazi coup. Edith gives birth to Marigold and her parents invent a story about whether the baby is Edith’s “office”.
Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), daughter of the count and countess, becomes pregnant before her boyfriend’s death and does everything to avoid a scandal that would reflect badly on her family
Charles Pope (Jack Bardoe) has no idea that he is the nephew of the Earl of Brockenhurst
Belgravia: Charles Pope (Jack Bardoe) has no idea that he is the illegitimate grandson of the Earl of Brockenhurst. He is a cotton merchant and a principled man who will refuse to profit from slavery. Unlike other Victorian gentlemen, he works and plans to open one of Manchester’s most modern mills.
Downton: Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) is a lawyer when contacted to inherit Downton. She continues to marry the Earl’s eldest daughter, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), and reviews the management of the estate with modern agricultural methods.
Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) is a lawyer when contacted to inherit Downton
A TRIBUTE TO HISTORY
Belgravia: The first episode of Belgravia opens on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. It focuses on a real-life ball thrown in Brussels by the Duchess of Richmond with the Duke of Wellington (who led Britain to victory). During the ball, the soldiers are told about Napoleon’s advance and abandon the dance to head forward.
Downton: The first ever episode of Downton Abbey was also launched on the back of a real event – the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912. Lord Grantham (played by Hugh Bonneville) reads the disaster in his newly published copy of The Times , which had been presented to him on a plate by his butler Carson. His Lordship later learns that his cousin and heir James and his son Patrick, the alleged heir to the Downton estate, are both drowned.
Pictured: Jack Bardoe as Charles Pope and Ella Purnell as Lady Maria Gray in Belgravia
Belgravia: Lady Maria Gray (played by Ella Purnell) is the beautiful daughter of Lady Templemore, who is determined to make sure that her daughter will “marry” a wealthy gentleman “well” and save the family from ruin. But Maria wants to visit India and learn about business, and hates being forced by her sex. Above all, she doesn’t want to marry Lord John Bellasis, the owl that her mother has lined up for her, and is much more taken with the endearing Charles Pope.
Downton: Lady Sybil Crawley (Jessica Brown Findlay), the younger daughter of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, does not want to be a granny who shits in elegant clothes. He becomes friends with Tom, the family driver and, through him, develops an interest in the campaign for the rights of the working class. She trains as a nurse to help the wounded of the Great War and causes scandal when she marries Tom against the wishes of her family.
Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil Crawley, the youngest and most rebellious daughter of the Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey. Her character eventually succumbs to death during childbirth
Sophia Trenchard (Emily Reid) is the beautiful, albeit slightly wet, daughter of James Trenchard
DEATH IN CHILDHOOD
Belgravia: Sophia Trenchard (Emily Reid) is the beautiful, albeit slightly wet, daughter of James Trenchard (Philip Glenister), the rich but frighteningly ordinary businessman. Lord Edmund Bellasis (Jeremy Neumark Jones), his wandering around an aristo boyfriend, tricks her into believing they are married – and makes her pregnant, before he is killed in battle. Sophia dies in childbirth while her mother cries on the bedside table.
Center: Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) was the youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Grantham. During labor, Dr. Clarkson states that Lady Sybil has pre-eclampsia and must go to the hospital. Absurdity, says obstetrician Sir Philip Tapsell. Sybil gives birth to a daughter and dies … while her mother cries at her bedside.
Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) tragically dies during childbirth despite doctor’s warnings that she must be treated in the hospital. Lord Grantham prevails over the doctor and tragedy ensues
Harriet Walker plays Caroline, countess of Brockenhurst in the new ITV Belgravia show
Belgravia: Harriet Walker plays Caroline, countess of Brockenhurst, the acid-tongued manipulator who plans to ruin the Trenchards. Dame Harriet, 69, was honored in 2011. She also appeared as a grandmother in Downton – Lady Prudence Shackleton, a childhood friend of the Countess Dowager.
Downton: Maggie Smith plays Violet Crawley, Countess of Grantham’s widow, whose stern looks and shriveled downs have made her one of Downton’s most beloved characters. Maggie Smith, 85, was named Dame in 1990 for performing arts services.
Maggie Smith played the iconic Violet Crawley, Countess of Grantham’s widow
The dishonest butler, Turton (Paul Ritter), is a bigger snob than his employer
Belgravia: Turton (Paul Ritter) is the chief butler of Trenchards, and he is terribly snorted by the fact that his master works in the trade. But he is happy to exploit the family’s wealth for his earnings and steal food from the family kitchen to sell it.
Downton: Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) is Downton’s most manipulative servant. He tries to get his lordship’s valet to shoot by planting stolen goods and forces the maids to give him information about their women.
Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) is a shady and shady servant with a past
Tamsin Greig as Anne Trenchard with her beloved domestic dachshund, Agnes
Belgravia: Anne Trenchard (Tamsin Greig) may have enough money to keep her in fancy hats, but one thing she can’t buy is acceptance in London society. Anne, the daughter of a teacher, marries a merchant transformed into a tycoon. She is tolerated by the great ladies of Belgravia but has never felt welcome.
Downton: Doctor Isobel Crawley’s daughter (Penelope Wilton) has been very hard hit by Violet, the widow countess, who is shocked by her lack of servants. When they first met, Isobel asked what they should be called. The Duchess Duchess replied, “We could always start with Mrs. Crawley and Lady Grantham.”
Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley, the mother of cousin Matthew who unexpectedly finds himself the heir of a father. Isobel finds it difficult to adapt to the ways of Downton Abbey
Speer (Bronagh Gallagher, pictured left) is Susan Trenchard’s (Alice Eve) maid and is willing to exploit the secrets of her mistress. O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran, right), is the maid of the lady of the Countess of Grantham and has a colorful past that is not revealed until in the series
THE MAIDS OF THE LADY LADY
Belgravia: Speer (Bronagh Gallagher) is the maid of Susan Trenchard (Alice Eve), spoiled daughter-in-law of Anne and James Trenchard. Susan makes the mistake of trusting her maid for her outrageous extramarital affair, but Speer will use the information for her own gain.
Downton: Who can forget the evil O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran), servant of Cora Crawley, countess of Grantham? Cora is happy to get pregnant in her 40s, hoping it will bring Downton the male heir she needs. But O’Brien, believing that she is about to be fired, has other ideas and puts a wet bar of soap on the floor near the tub of her Ladyship. Cora slips properly and loses the baby.
Belgravia: Agnes is the dachshund belonging to Anne Trenchard. Agnes is always caressed and fed with scraps from the table. She likes to ride a carriage with her mistress, who seems to love her more than her worthless son Oliver does.
Downton: Isis was the yellow labrador belonging to the Earl of Grantham. He was always at his master’s side and there was no dry eye when Isis died of old age in 2014.
The beloved pet labrador of the Earl of Grantham, Isis, who even had a storyline
FEEL THAT FIRST?
The scores for both shows were composed by Bafta-winning Scottish composer John Lunn. With their classic, high, iconic opening sequence, they left many viewers confused joking on Twitter that they thought the music had been recycled.