Downton Abbey is thrown into a bustle of activity when the Earl and Lady Grantham receive news that the Abbey is to be graced with a visit by King George (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James). Their Majesties plan to stay overnight so Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) anxiously organises their visit and a parade in their honour. Downstairs the staff excitedly prepare for the great honour, but excitement fades when the staff learn that the visitors will be bringing their own entourage of butlers, kitchen staff, ladies-in-waiting and so on.
The Royal staff treat the Downton Abbey staff very rudely, so Anna Bates (Joanna Froggatt) plans revenge. Meanwhile, Captain Chetwode (Stephen Campbell Moore) arrives on the scene and takes a personal interest in Tom Branson (Allen Leech). Lady Mary suspects he might be a member of Special Branch, come to check on Tom’s known Irish Republican sympathies. But it turns out that Chetwode has plans of his own.
The Royal visit unfolds with hitches, plots and subplots, but all is well in the end.
Early 20th-century morals and culture; adult themes; plots against the King
Downton Abbey has some violence. For example:
- Andy Parker (Michael Fox) smashes the boiler in a jealous fit.
- A man points a gun at the King as part of a plot to assassinate him. Tom wrestles the man to the ground, and he’s subsequently arrested by the police.
- The police raid a gay men’s club and arrest all the patrons. There’s a tussle between the men and the police. Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) is among the arrested men.
Downton Abbey has some sexual references. For example:
- A man in a bar propositions Thomas Barrow. They go together to a gay men’s club, where men dance closely together. Thomas and the man kiss.
- A male royal staff member is also attracted to Thomas. He gets Thomas out of jail and tells the police that ‘he’d rather be dead than be one of them’, when in fact he’s also gay. This man and Thomas also kiss.
- One of the visitors, Lady Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton), has a housemaid, Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton). Lucy is Lady Bagshaw’s constant companion, and it turns out that she’s also Lady Bagshaw’s illegitimate daughter.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Downton Abbey shows some use of substances. For example:
- People drink on many occasions and at many different venues, including at dinner, at celebrations, at supper; in the pub and so on.
- Anna Bates gives the royal chef a sleeping drug in his tea.
Nudity and sexual activity
Downton Abbey has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Several characters kiss. They include Cora and Robert, Lucy and Tom, and Lady Mary and Henry Talbot (Mathew Goode).
- Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) is seen on a few occasions dressing and undressing down to her underwear. No nudity is shown.
Downton Abbey has some coarse language, including ‘blimey’, ‘oh God’ and ‘arse’. Also, the police call the gay men ‘dirty perverts’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Downton Abbey is a light period drama, which continues the story of the Crawley family and includes all of the well-loved characters from the TV series. It’s funny and romantic, but because of its content and length, it probably won’t interest viewers under 13 years. We recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-14 years.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include empathy, kindness and loyalty.
Downton Abbey could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- moral attitudes and how today’s attitudes differ from those of the early-20thcentury – for example, at that time homosexuality was illegal and illegitimate children were shameful
- revenge – for example, is it right for Anna to drug the chef so the Downton staff can get revenge?