Vancouver Sun

Mind Your Manners, Downton Abbey-style


A finishing school guide to Downton Abbey for aficionado­s and devotees alike, as described to the London Daily Telegraph by Downton historical adviser Alastair Bruce.

• Don’t pronounce it “Downton.” The proper pronunciat­ion, as enunciated by Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary and is originally from Essex, is “D-a-r-nton.”

• Don’t slouch. Sit up straight. These modern actresses who come into audition, they sit as modern women do. They just go “bang” down in the chair. Don’t go “bang” down in the chair. It’s uncouth. Bruce says he insists that people put a cup of tea down before they sit. Balancing a cup of tea has a way of bringing out the civility in one. Also, just try to go “bang” into a chair while holding a cup of scalding hot tea.

• Make sure the bed is turned down “in the correct manner.” These on-set props masters today, Bruce groused to the Telegraph, don’t know how to make a bed properly. “In a correct house, you would have a blanket and sheet turned over in a concertina style.” Indeed. Where do you think you are, Ireland?

• Actors in white tie often try to smooth their tails before they sit down. Bruce will have none of that. The Crawleys don’t look after their clothes, he reasons: That’s what the servants are for. If the Crawley scion’s tails are creased, it’s the servants’ fault, not the scion’s. They call it the class system for a reason.

• Do not use a fork to eat cake. This isn’t the colonies, you know. Master the etiquette of meal time. Bruce worked himself into a right state, while talking to the Telegraph. “In the dining room, I have been determined that Lord and Lady Grantham will sit opposite each other in the middle of the table, rather than, as is so often shown in Hollywood, at either end of an extremely long table.”

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