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Downton Abbey: A New Era (PG, 125 minutes)

The cinematic event of the year is how one TV trailer describes this second spin off from the successful TV series.

If that’s the case, God help us!

Downton never connected with me in the way some other light stylised period pieces such as The Durrells did. The upstairs/downstairs Merchant/Ivory with the odd giggle-ness of it all just doesn’t appeal.

I find myself thinking of the Monty Python sketch Salad Days and wishing the same fate would befall these plummy berks with their class-driven silliness where rampant snobbery poses as quaint charm.

In a two-pronged fruit fork of a storyline, the Crawleys set off for the south of France after the dowager (Dame Maggie Smith) conveniently inherits a villa from a former admirer while in Blighty, with the Abbey roof leaking and funds required to cover repairs, Lord Grantham (hugh Bonneville) begrudgingly allows the estate to be used as a location by a film crew, much to the delight of his starstruck cartoon working class servants.

At this stage I can’t imagine new fans coming on board – you either love Downton or, like me, you refuse to have it in your life – so creator Julian Fellowes knows exactly what his audience expects and writes accordingly. Characters are stereotypes from the pompous family members and know their place staff to the bitchy film starlet and secretly gay Hollywoodland leading man.

It’s all supposed to be harmles fun, but to me this lot are just five years away from having Oswald Mosley and the Mitford sisters as dinner guests.

Just not my cup of Earl Grey at all.

RATING: 3/10

Mick Ferris

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