Downton Shabby: Unofficial collection of jewellery unveiled by U.S. TV network
With its memories of a bygone age and class, Downton Abbey has proven to be as big a hit in America as in Britain.
But despite being showered with awards across the Atlantic, producers of the ITV period drama are less than happy after an American TV network launched a collection of somewhat tasteless themed jewellery.
Producers Carnival were forced to call in lawyers to stop the Public Broadcasting Service, the US network that airs Downton Abbey, from naming jewellery after the show’s most famous character, Lady Mary Crawley.
The unofficial collection and how much it will cost to look like the stars of Downton Abbey
PBS has launched the Downton Abbey collection for viewers who are keen to copy the style of Lady Mary and her sisters. The ‘Lady Mary knotted pearl necklace and earring set’, available for 102 ($159.99), was doing a roaring trade until Downton producers complained.
The PBS Downton merchandise website described the item as ‘the epitome of elegance, inspired by the character of Lady Mary Crawley, this luxuriously long pearl necklace and matching diamante earring set is a must have for all ladies of quality.’
The sales pitch added: ‘As it was in the Edwardian era, this stunning pearl necklace could easily move from your afternoon tea to evening dinner.
Matching diamante earrings add additional distinction for formal meals or other occasions.’
However none of the profits from the Downton Abbey Collection were returned to the writer and creator Julian Fellowes or Carnival Films, the UK producers of the series, which own the copyright to the series.
Carnival, which has approved an official range of Downton DVDs and books, was horrified to find that PBS, its broadcast partner, was cashing in on the show’s popularity.
A spokesman for Carnival said: ‘We did not authorise the sale of Lady Mary jewellery. Our lawyers have been in contact with PBS in order to remove these items from sale.’
PBS is continuing to sell the jewellery as part of its Downton Abbey collection, but has now agreed to remove direct references to Lady Mary and other characters from the show – and all mentions of Downton characters have now been deleted from the website.
Some of the jewellery has been named after two of the series' lead characters, Lady Mary Crawley (right) and Lady Sybil (centre), pictured here with Lady Edith
The ‘glamorous aristocratic chic’ on offer in the Downton Collection also includes a 1920s-style wool cloche hat with oversize buckle, in the style modelled by Lady Sybil, which would be perfect for country walks. That is on sale for just 28.91 ($45).
There are even flat caps on sale, while American viewers can then entertain guests with the 51.40 ($79.99) English Crown Tea Set, which includes a gold-detailed teapot and mug.
‘Celebrate the English tradition of teatime with this tea service elegant enough for any Countess or Lady,’ the website suggests. The tea, of course, can be brewed in a Dcor Copper Teakettle w/Brass Handle, available for 25.68 ($39.99).
American tourists are already flocking to Highclere House in Berkshire where the series is filmed. The ITV series won six Emma awards last year and was last week named best mini drama at the Golden Globes.
The second series of Downton Abbey lured 4.2 million viewers to the PBS network, doubling the US cable network’s average audience. While promoting the second series of Downton, which has just launched in the states, Lord Fellowes, 62, admitted he was surprised by its success in America.
A brooch and earring cameo set that are on offer for $54.99
A black simple pearl necklace with an asking price of 89.99
An antique button and pearl necklace and earring set: $82.99
This circular Victorian pearl earrings are going for $119.99
An English crown tea service set, which includes a gold-detailed teapot and mug 'elegant enough for any countess or lady' is on offer for $79.99
The writer – who confessed to basing the show on US TV hit NYPD Blue – has already been approached about turning Downton into a Hollywood movie.
And he said: ‘To me, all success is a delightful surprise, since one can absolutely never predict it. I was tremendously pleased when it became apparent that the show had gone down well in America.
‘The night of the Emmys, when we won six altogether, was one of the great nights of my life. You will probably ask about class division and so on, but class, as a topic, is of far less interest to the Americans than the British. Good for them.
‘What the Americans want to see is life in their drama. Life of all sorts: hard lives, easy lives, or lives which, like most of ours, are a mixture of the two. If we are popular there, then I would suggest, again rather timidly, that we have managed to get some of that into the drawing rooms and sculleries of Downton Abbey.’