A SLICE OF THE GOOD LIFE COMES AT A COST
DOWNTON Abbey doesn’t come cheaply. Filming of the second series had a rumoured budget of about $1.5 million an episode. A visit to the set of the hit British drama is eye-opening. I feel like I have stepped back in time as the heritage property appears through a veil of rain. I’m rugged up, jetlagged and ever so slightly damp after being caught in a downpour. A lunch break has been called as I arrive on set, so I join cast and crew in a queue for a slice of the warming steak and mushroom pie on offer. It’s a grey old day at Highclere Castle, the grand estate in Newbury, where the lush period drama, embraced by viewers from England to the US and Australia, is set. Highclere Castle, owned by Lord and Lady Carnarvon, is majestic. Inside, it is a hive of activity. Filming of the Crawleys’ home life primarily takes place in five rooms — the library, dining room, music room, saloon and drawing room. Scenes of the downstairs life at Downton, such as the kitchens, are filmed on sets at Ealing Studios in London. FIONA BYRNE Don’t Miss our Downton Abbey ipad exclusive, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at production on the top-rating period drama.