Downton Abbey S4 Ep1 Review

It’s back then, ITV’s Sunday night drama Downton Abbey. That point in the week when you curl up on the sofa and escape to a world of gorgeous gowns, cheeky kitchen maids and dominant dowagers. Every week I’ll be casting a glance through the events of Sunday’s episode and speculating on what we can expect from the next instalment.

And so, week one:

Poor old Robert; he really has no idea what’s going on around him, does he? This week he thinks he’d be the perfect choice to look after little George’s financial interests in the estate. Yes, Robert that would be a great idea because you did such a good job with your own money! Meanwhile everyone in the house seems to disagree with his ‘leave Mary alone to get over it’ plan of (in)action, particularly Branson who took every opportunity to raise his objections. I was worried the wind would change and his pissed-off expression would stay like that forever!

Miss Siby (aka Branson and Sybil’s daughter). Does this child not have legs? Well, yes, she does because at one point she runs to her father. So, why did Nanny West insist on trundling her around in a pram? Surely the child is well over the age when she can start walking? Or was this part of Nanny’s neglect of the ‘chauffeur’s daughter’? Wheel her around everywhere and then her legs won’t work as she gets older. Anyone else think the whole ‘evil Nanny West’ plot was just to give Thomas something nasty to do now Miss O’Brien has gone?

Dear Julian Fellowes, please make Edith happy. We all know her relationship with the newspaper man is doomed, not least because of all the references to how happy they’d be moving to Germany. Poor Edith; she fancied Matthew and he only had eyes for her sister (should have kept ‘em on the road, Matt), then there was ‘Patrick’; or was there? She did get a snog from the farmer she helped during the war until his wife realised what was going on. And then Sir Anthony Strallan left her at the altar. What does the poor girl have to do for a bit of happiness?

Much more of Molesley and the Dowager’s butler. It was the stand-out scene of the first episode (other than Mary’s cry on Carson’s shoulder) and proved that Downton can do comedy as well as drama. I particularly enjoyed the bit when both butlers appeared to be trying to talk without opening their mouths: ‘Nooooo!’ squealed Molesley without moving his lips.

Talking of double acts, the friendship between Mrs Hughes and Mrs Patmore has been steadily developing since the first series. Remember the row about who got to keep the storeroom key? Mrs P supported the housekeeper through her cancer scare (even if she did tell Mr Carson). It’s nice to see a friendship developing between what have been quite spiky characters so far.

Resident lovebirds Anna and Mr Bates didn’t have a great deal to do in the first episode, just lots of meaningful looks across the table in the servants’ room so you’d know they’d much rather be in their cottage for some ‘alone time’. As we know with Downton, no happy couple stays happy for very long…