The history behind Lord and Lady Grantham: Julian Fellowes plans prequel to Downton Abbey
21:44 GMT, 27 September 2012
Their marriage has captivated viewers but little is known about how their romance began.
Now fans of Downton Abbey will be given an insight into the history behind Lord and Lady Grantham and the Crawley family.
Julian Fellowes has revealed he is planning a 'prequel' laying bare how Lord and Lady Grantham first courted.
How it all began: The makers of Downton Abbey are planning to tell the story of how Cora arrived in the UK before she became Lady Grantham
The 63-year-old has said it will be set it in the late 19th century when American heiresses arrived in the UK to wed eligible men.
‘I do have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship between Robert and Cora,’ he said at the Bafta Screenwriting Lecture.
‘It is a fascinating time when the Buccaneers were coming to England and marrying [aristocrats].
‘Cora was in love with him before they married but as we know he only fell in love with her about a year after they married.
Gold digger: Did Lord Grantham simply marry Cora for the money or was it something more
How they got together: Julian Fellowes is set to look at the story behind the Granthams
Branching out: Julian Fellowes who writes and produces Downton Abbey wants to tell the story of the Granthams
‘He married her purely for the money. I think that is something he came to feel quite guilty about.’
Fellowes said he was initially planning the tale to be a novel to accompany the series, but is likely ITV will to adapt it for television too.
He added that he had ideas for Downton characters for a film or on stage but that those plans would have to wait until the TV series had finished.
He has previously told how he was partly inspired to write Downton Abbey after reading the book, To Marry An English Lord.
He said: ‘It was about the Buccaneers – those American heiresses who arrived in such numbers during the 1880s and 90s, to rescue many great houses in distress
‘It occurred to me that while people had a mental image of beauties stepping ashore into the (not always very willing) arms of a waiting nobleman, few bothered to think about those same women 20, 30, 40 years later, marooned in some freezing country house in the Midlands, with envious thoughts of sisters in comfortable, centrally heated cottages in Newport.
Most of them outlived the way of life they had arrived to save, dying in the 1950s and 60s, having devoted the years to a social and political system that the century finally rejected.
How did they deal with that It is not
surprising that such ruminations led to more thinking and more
characters, until I had made the decision to take on the job and the
series was born.
Hit show: Downton is one of the most popular shows on ITV
Oscar-winning writer also revealed that he was told by the BBC that no
one was interested in class or period drama, when he was working on
Little Lord Fauntleroy for them in the 1990s.
explained: ‘I’ll never forget that Alan Yentob had an advisory body of
some sort, and they sent him in a report after reading my scripts, and
said ‘the market for class based period drama is dead,’. Happily, for
the rest of my life so far, this proved inaccurate. And in fact the show
did get made, and it won an Emmy in New York, and in fact we got 10
million viewers which was the highest they’d ever had for that slot. ‘
Downton is now one of the most popular dramas on British television pulling in higher ratings than Doctor Who and Coronation Street in recent weeks.
Series three has enjoyed peak ratings of around nine million an episode and has been described as a return to form by critics.
Last week the show had a disappointing night – winning three awards out of 16 nominations.
Just one of those was for on screen talent with Dame Maggie Smith picking up the accolade for supporting actress, despite the fact that much of the cast, including Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery, were nominated.
Producer Gareth Neame said it was an “extraordinary achievement” just to be nominated against top US shows such as Mad Men, Homeland, and Breaking Bad.
But the show is still the toast of America with many of its top stars being courted by US broadcasters.
ITV is expected to commission a fourth series for next year but it is not clear if it will retain its biggest names.
Dan Stevens and Miss Dockery have both hinted that they would like to work in the US.