Above, an orchestral performance of Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.” For those who have not watched this popular TV drama, Downton Abbey is a British period drama television series created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. It first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom on 26th September 2010 and on PBS in the United States on 9th January 2011 as part of the Masterpiece Classic anthology.
The writer, broadcaster and stand-up comedian Viv Groskop has penned an excellent piece about the last ever episode of ITV’s hit drama “Downton Abbey.”
In her critique Ms Groskop pointed out to following glaring inconsistencies in the script – instances of modern dialogue that would have been completely out of place in December 1925. Howlers that Ms Groskop draws the Guardian reader’s attention to include Lady Edith saying:
“I think I’ve been about as hasty as a glacier. Anyway, I’m a spinster, aren’t I? And spinsters live alone.” This in December 1925? Err… No! It gets worse!
There was “Who knew we had an expert in the basement?” So here we have the use of the current “Who knew?” not only combined with the use of the American English “basement” and not British English “cellar” but the dropped clanger alluding to the servants workspace as “the basement” and not “downstairs.”
Could it get worse? Yes!
We were treated to: “What are you gonna do?” and unbelievably: “I’m busy reinventing myself.” What!!!!!!!!!
Oh, and then there was to quote Ms Groskop: “……..Anna’s suggestion to Thomas, reminiscent of Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays: “Why not use the time to try to find out what brought you so low?…..”
Ms Groskop goes on to point out another huge clanger: “You make me miserable for years and then you give me my life back.”
But the pièce de résistance must surely go to the absolutely colossal clanger spotted by Mr Stuart Guppy, Chairman of UKIP St. Ives and the Isle of Scilly branch who pointed out that George Frederick Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” – played at Lady Edith’s wedding – whilst a popular wedding march in 1925 as it is now – would most certainly NOT have been played on an ELECTRONIC ORGAN!
Electricity HAD arrived on the organ scene in the first decades of the 20th century, but it was slow to have a major impact. Electrically powered reed organs appeared during the first decades of electricity, but their tonal qualities remained much the same as the older, foot-pumped models.
So what? Why is the British Gazette making so much fuss about a few clangers in a costume drama?
The answer is because it demonstrates just how WORRIED the British political establishment is about the present British Gazette! It is a HUGE compliment to not only to the Editor but the patriotic gentlemen who work so tirelessly keeping the website up and running against the continuous threat from malicious hackers – and of course to you Dear Reader for your unstinting support.
You see the huge amount of absolute howlers in the 2015 Christmas Special is indicative of a rushed job! How many times have you come across an instance where something has gone wrong and the person affected has been determined to attend to correcting matters right away when they are still in a hot tempered state. You naturally call out to them and say such as “Calm down! Steady on! Wait!” This is because you know that a rectification attempted in such a state will invariably result in mistakes and error.
What clearly happened was that the “powers that be” – the British establishment – prevailed upon Carnival Films and Masterpiece and its customer ITV to see to it that Downton Abbey was taken off air and that the year 1926 would not be covered! A feature film spin off might follow as possibly a spin of TV series – but they will be few years AFTER 1926!
What is so special about the year 1926? We hear a few of our younger readers ask.
Because 1926 was the year of the General Strike.
The 1926 General Strike in the United Kingdom was a general strike that lasted 9 days, from 4th May 1926 to 13th May 1926. It was called by the general council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in an unsuccessful attempt to force the British government to act to prevent wage reduction and worsening conditions for 1.2 million locked-out coal miners. Some 1.7 million workers went out, especially in transport and heavy industry. The government was prepared and enlisted middle class volunteers to maintain essential services. There was little violence and the TUC gave up in defeat.
The fact was though, that the General Strike was THE MAJOR political event in Britain that year. Had Downton Abbey had been continued with it would have been impossible to not mention the General Strike. That would have been like not mentioning the 2012 London Olympics in BBC TV’s East Enders that year!
So since the strike would HAVE to have been mentioned so too would have been the government’s strike breaking newspaper The British Gazette!
You see, in May 1926 newspapers were the PRINCIPAL means of disseminating news. Radio – then called “the wireless” was in it’s infancy. My father who was 20 in 1926 was a keen radio enthusiast and spent most of his spare cash on buying thermionic valves and constructing crystal wireless sets which were listened to through crude headphones.
Your Editor and the gentlemen maintaining the website had put in place plans – now completely obviated – to increase the bandwidth required by the server hosting the website should the “British Gazette” had been mentioned in Downton Abbey – even the Christmas Special!
This is because thousands of people would have subsequently gone on the internet and Googled “British Gazette” and would have discovered this organ! This was something that those such as Mr Chameleon and Mr Farron were NOT prepared to tolerate!
This collection of clangers and the FACT that the Chameleon was SO TERRIFIED of the British Gazette that he prevailed upon ITV, Carnival Films and Masterpiece to put an end to one of Britain’s most successful ever cultural exports in history and the strangest televisual phenomenon ever is the highest possible compliment that could have been paid to us!