The soap opera that is Downton Abbey continues as we move towards the 1930s with the Crawleys forced to come to terms with the modern world.
All the favourites return as an ailing Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) unexpectedly inherits a luxurious villa in the south of France. Transpires it’s from an old flame, a man who is prepared to displace his wife and son from the premises. Off go son Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and other members of the family to check it all out. It’s perfect timing as Downton Abbey is about to become a film set for the shooting of the silent film, The Gambler. The Earl of Grantham is only too delighted to be out of the way. But as Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), left in charge, points out: they need the money for a new roof.
As with previous episodes (television or film), upstairs and downstairs stories unfold with equal measure. The excitement below stairs is palpable as the film crew and stars arrive with Lady Mary unexpectedly becoming more involved in the film.
It’s all very staid and polite. A genteel continuum of the Downton Abbey saga that undoubtedly pleases fans but one that is unlikely to win new ones.