Originally published: 05.10.15
One of the many things that have happened since I moved back into my childhood home is that I’ve been watching TV programmes I had never really engaged with before. Some of it is great (Great British Bake Off! Where had you been my whole life?); some of it less so (why does Nicholas Lyndhurst talk posh in New Tricks?) and some of it is Downton Abbey.
Now, I did watch the first series of Downton Abbey on Netflix, mainly because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. And because of Lady Sybil. I got bored halfway through the second series, however, and increasingly frustrated at the total lack of engagement with class politics by the writers. Downton, I decided, was not for me.
However, I ended up half-watching an episode the other night which featured Lady Edith losing her child at the country fair and then finding her again.
What is this? I asked my mum. Where did this kid come from?
It turns out that Lady Edith had an illegitimate child and then the family gave the baby girl to a local family to look after. However, Lady Edith missed her daughter so much that the family agreed to give her back and now the Downton Abbey family are raising it.
I sat in silence for a moment. I looked at Lady Edith’s frantic expression; the paternalistic glow in Hugh Bonneville’s face as he reunites daughter and granddaughter.
‘They would have put her in an asylum,’ I responded.