This is a new television series currently airing in the UK on the commercial ITV channel.  There are 7 episodes, and number 5 aired this past Sunday evening.  I’ve been watching online, and it’s just wonderful.  The cast is stellar, and includes Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Penelope Wilton, Dan Stevens and Brendan Coyle.

The series was written by Julian Fellowes, of Gosford Park fame, and is similar to Upstairs, Downstairs in that both “the family” and their servants have plot lines. Hugh Bonneville is Robert, Earl of Grantham, and Elizabeth McGovern is his wife, Cora.  Dame Maggie plays the Dowager Countess (Violet).  Matthew Crawley, the heir, is Dan Stevens, and Penelope Wilton is his mother, Isobel.  Downstairs is run by Carson, the butler and Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper, and there is enough intrigue both above and below the stairs to keep me hooked. Yes, it’s soap-opera-ish, but I don’t care.

The series will be on Masterpiece Theatre in the new year, but I would bet that they’ll cut it the way they do everything else, so if you are not in the UK you should definitely try to watch it online.

ITV released a press pack (here) which is chock-full of good tidbits about the characters and the plot, and it’s been announced that another series is in the pipeline.  Hoorah!