Here in the UK the last in the current series of Downton Abbey has now aired and for many, the Christmas special and a third series next year will be eagerly awaited. For ITV1 this has been the most popular series in the past ten years and has seen a 21% increase in viewers since its first outing last year.
The program essentially follows the lives of the aristocratic owners of Downton Abbey and their servants. A variation on the other popular series Upstairs, Downstairs that first aired in the 1970’s. In a way this was more understandable as we were closer to the Edwardian era then. However, this is now 2011 and we supposedly have more gender, cultural and social equality.
So why on earth have 11.8 million viewers been glued to their screens on Sunday evenings? Maybe it’s the various on/off relationships or the great one-liners delivered by the fabulous Maggie Smith, but could it be that there is a secret hankering for the days when it seemed there was more structure and life appeared to be slower and more gentile. An age when people felt they knew their place and there were more “jobs for life”.
Or perhaps as we hover on the brink of a double dip recession with fewer jobs, more cutbacks and redundancies, it’s just good old escapism – an hour or so to disappear into the highs and lows of the lives of others before returning to the reality of our own!