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Downton Abbey is an episodic drama chronicling the experiences of the Crawleys, an aristocratic Edwardian family, and their legion of servants who attend them upon their estate, after which the series is titled. Filmed at Highclere Castle and created by Julian Fellowes, it stars Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, and Shirley MacLaine.

The story arc of Downtown Abbey roughly encompasses the years 1912-1921, the Edwardian and post-Edwardian era, World War I and the inauguration of the Irish Free State. The series begins with news reaching Downton Abbey of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. On board the Titanic were the heir presumptive of Downton Abbey and the Grantham peerage, James Crawley, and his son Patrick. Cousin and nephew respectively to Robert, Earl of Grantham (Bonneville), the death of the heir promptly throws the Crawley family into disarray, as the question of succession suddenly arises in the absence of viable male heirs.

Lord Grantham is otherwise penniless to boot, his wealth excluded to (and bound up in) an entail, his personal riches consisting of those brought to the marriage by his American wife, Cora (McGovern). Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery), the eldest daughter, had been engaged to Patrick, but the rule of primogeniture cancels her rights to the Grantham inheritance, which includes all money and property once owned by her mother. The Dowager Countess (Smith) endeavors to break the entail, which would prevent an outside male heir from claiming house, land, and all wealth, but Lord Grantham, a traditionalist, is against this idea.

Lord Grantham engages a former army associate, a Mr. John Bates. Lame and proud, Mr. Bates immediately ruffles feathers on staff, and is deemed unsuitable to the job of valet. Lady Cora's lady's maid, O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran), and a troubled and ambitious young footman, Thomas (Rob James-Collier), scheme and plot to cast Mr. Bates in the worst light possible. Thomas has long desired to be Lord Grantham's valet; in between he has carried on an affair with the Duke of Crowborough, whom he tries unsuccessfully to blackmail. Lady Cora and the butler, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), convince Lord Grantham Mr. Bates must be sent away, and the Earl nearly relents. At the last minute he changes his mind, and invites Mr. Bates to remain.

The new heir, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), arrives at Downton Abbey. He is a solicitor and intends to continue working. He loathes the idea of assuming lordship at Downton Abbey, though his mother is keen on the whole affair. She insists they remain in order to disprove assumptions about their social class on the part of the Crawleys. Class warfare plays out in the tension that arises between Matthew and Lady Mary, and the Dowager Countess and Matthew's mother, Isobel (Penelope Wilton). Isobel, having been assistant to her late husband, a physician, keeps busy by working at the local hospital. An old acquaintance tries to blackmail Mr. Carson with secrets about his days as a music-hall performer. When Lord Grantham gets wind of these developments, he pays off Mr. Carson's blackmailer.

Lady Edith, the middle Crawley daughter, finds Matthew handsome and offers to give him a tour of the local churches. To her chagrin he is more turned on by the architecture than her company. Lady Mary is thrilled when word reaches her Evelyn Napier, a wealthy peer and possible suitor, is coming to call. He brings with him a handsome Turkish politician, Mr. Kemal Pamuk, with whom Lady Mary is instantly smitten. Thomas escorts Mr. Pamuk to Lady Mary's bedroom after dinner, where Mr. Pamuk successfully overcomes her romantic objections. They share a night of passion; Mr. Pamuk dies in Lady Mary's bed. Mary, her lady's maid, Anna (Joanne Froggatt), and Cora remove Mr. Pamuk's body. Daisy (Sophie McShera), a scullery maid, spies upon them as they do.

Lady Sybil, the youngest Crawley daughter, assists Gwen, a housemaid, with her attempts at a secretarial career. Lady Cora becomes pregnant, but loses the baby after slipping on a bar of soap strategically placed beside her bath by O'Brien. During a garden party, the Dowager Countess thanks O'Brien for placing a want ad in a newspaper, confessing her desire to replace a lady's maid who has recently left her. O'Brien realizes the error in her previous assumptions. Minutes later, Lord Grantham announces the outbreak of the war.

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Sunday 9:00 PM et/pt on PBS
5 Seasons, 43 Episodes - Currently Airing
Drama, History
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Downton Abbey Full Episode Guide

  • The Crawleys celebrate Christmas at Downton.

  • Mrs. Pattmore gets a surprise. Anna is in a quandary. Someone tries to sabotage Rose and Atticus's relationship.

  • Mary is finally free of one suitor, Edith's motives are revealed.

  • Violet’s heart is awakened by an ancient spark. Bates finally reveals the truth to Anna. Answers to a painful mystery are finally found.

Downton Abbey News

'Downton Abbey' Will Officially End After Next Season...But Might Get a Movie!

Well, "Downton Abbey" fans...we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the ITV/PBS show will officially be ending its run after this upcoming season (series for those of you in the UK). According to a statement from ITV, season six of "Downton" will indeed be the last one. "Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years," said show EP Gareth Neame. "Inevitably there comes a time when all shows should end and Downton is no exception.

Don't Worry, Maggie Smith Isn't Leaving 'Downton Abbey' (We Hope)

Don't believe everything you read, folks. Always check with the Dowager Countess herself. Rumors started flying that Dame Maggie Smith would be leaving "Downton Abbey" after this season after the Sunday Times posted an interview and suggested as much. However, all of it was just a case of bad journalism. What Smith actually said in the interview was this: "They say this is the last [season] and I can’t see how it could go on. I mean, I certainly can’t keep going.

10 Best Returning TV Shows Premiering in January

There are some new shows premiering in January that might be a good watch...we trust Rainn Wilson in "Backstrom" and "Galavant" is taking a risk as a medieval-set musical-comedy, but it's just so crazy it might work. But January 2015 is an especially great month for already existing shows that are premiering a new season. Here are the 10 best ones premiering this month, in order of premiere date: 1. "Downton Abbey" - Sunday, Jan. 4 at 9pm, PBS Perhaps this period drama doesn't quite have the following and fan fervor that it once did, but that doesn't mean it's gone completely off the rails.

'Downton Abbey' Releases Season 5 Stills...With One Huge Mistake

This is most improper. The hit PBS series "Downton Abbey" released its first set of stills for the upcoming fifth season today, showcasing character portraits of the show's major players. But in one of the photos, there was a small yet glaring detail that got overlooked. The photo in question features Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) posing in a stately manor in front of a mantle with various accoutrements. The problem is, one of those accoutrements is a plastic water bottle! It would seem that one of the actors or crew members neglected to remove their futuristic drinking apparatus from the set before the photo was snapped.

Want to Dress Like You're on 'Downton Abbey?' Wish Granted.

“Downton Abbey” is certainly in the forefront lately. Carnival Films, the production company responsible for the popular British period drama, is now releasing a clothing line inspired by the show. What? I can finally dress for dinner? Gareth Neame, executive producer on the show, says there’s a reason it took three full seasons to get started on those decadent gowns and luscious hats. "It's a very slow burn the moment you get into retail, it's extremely cautious, it has to test the established brand…No one wants to launch products if the show's going to be a flop," says Neame, who is also Carnival Films' managing director.

'Downton Abbey' Casts Gary Carr in First Recurring Black Role

In an effort to “open the show up ethnically,” Gareth Neame, executive producer of “Downton Abbey,” has cast Gary Carr in the recurring role of a jazz singer Jack Ross for the fourth season of the British drama. "We are delighted to introduce another fantastic, dynamic character to ‘Downton Abbey,'" said Neame in a statement. "His addition will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can't wait for viewers to see in series four.

Will This Generation Embrace Its Own 'Romeo and Juliet?' [VIDEO]

Proof that Shakespeare never goes out of style—first of the year was Joss Whedon’s modernized, black-and-white interpretation of Much Ado About Nothing… And now, for the younger audience, comes this generation’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Unlike Whedon’s adaptation, the trailer for “Romeo and Juliet” seems to stick with faith to the original heart of the epic play, complete with decadent costumes, weapons, and… Chuck Bass’ epic hair.

What's in the Mix For 'Downton Abbey,' Season Four?

While American audiences won’t be able to watch season four of “Downton Abbey” until winter of 2014, the show has already begun filming across the pong... and here’s a few things we know we can look forward to once it finally makes its way over. Obviously the heart-rending season finale left Mary a new mother, but also a new widow. Season four will pick up about six months after the last episode, and at some point, Mary will have to begin looking for a new love interest.

Who is Leaving 'Downton Abbey?'

“Downton Abbey” fans are already mourning over the loss of several main characters in the second season of the show—Sybil, who made her dramatic exit after giving birth to a daughter, and then there was Matthew Crawley, whose final moments involved  a careening vehicle and a blank stare right after the birth of his son. Babies are bad news on this show. Now, after three seasons of scheming, manipulation, and maliciousness, audiences will be saying goodbye to lady’s maid Sarah O’Brien.

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