By Lisa-Marie Burrows
Sunday evening saw the opening instalment of the fourth series of ITV’s Downton Abbey, which was a glowing success. Many fans were waiting eagerly for the resumption of this popular British programme and along with that came a great weight of expectation to deliver in the first episode of the new series. After the tragic death of Matthew Crawley, who was the ‘modern day man’ and heir to the estate, Julian Fellowes was responsible for steering the story onwards and continued with the plot by having the episode enveloped around the sadness of his widow, Lady Mary.
Michelle Dockery, who plays the devastated wife delivered a fantastic performance, looking willow and almost robotic due to the absence of her husband shortly after the birth of their son, George. Her acting portrayed the misery and loss that she felt as she cut herself of from her role at the estate and could barely function without her beloved other half. Her performance was heart wrenching and you could almost feel her loneliness and grief yourselves bursting through the screens into your very room.
Misery aside, it was wonderful to see the return of the fantastic (and my personal favourite character) Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess. Matthew Crawley’s mother in the series, Mrs Crawley, played by Penelope Wilton, also made a welcome return. Smith’s character was ever feeling as always and her often false sternness continued to exude sadness for her granddaughter and her loss.
It was great to see that Lady Mary returned to her stubborn and relentless self as she chose to shun the black clothing after much persuasion and take her seat at the table to continue with her late husband’s wishes on how to change the Estate and improve it for the better in the future.
Overall, the first series back was as well-captured and delivered as the other three series. Sunday nights are now “Downton nights” and once again, the show has given us all something to look forward to on a Sunday night!
For those of you on the other side of the pond, who have not yet seen the trailer for the new series, here is a trailer for what is in store for you…