Before Downton? Not so abbey ever after

Julian Fellowes wants to write a Downton prequel. Why not march forward to the septic Seventies? John Walsh offers his plot suggestions
  • @johnhenrywalsh

Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, has announced his intention to write a "prequel" of his smash-hit drama, explaining how the Earl and Countess met. Yeah, yeah, fascinating. What we'd much rather see is the 18th series, when the characters have to face the modern world…

1973 – The dining room at Downton Abbey...

Enter Carson, with a candle: You rang, my lord?

The Earl: What the devil is going on, Carson? Cora and I were eating our Fray Bentos steak pie when the lights went off.

Carson: Indeed, M'lord. It appears that the consumption of electricity is being limited to three days a week, ceasing at 10.30pm.

Lady Violet: Well that is very good news. I've never liked electricity. Makes me feel like a floodlit statue in Trafalgar Square.

Earl: This is insupportable. It's like a curfew. Who is responsible?

Carson: It seems the fault of the miners who are working to rule, my Lord. Or so Mr Heath has explained on the news.

Lady Violet: Who is Mr Heath?

Carson: Mr Ted Heath is the prime minister, your ladyship.

Lady Violet: Nonsense. Ted Heath is a bandleader. He plays trombone. I used to dance to his orchestra at the Mayfair hotel.

Carson: This is a different gentleman. He has asked the country to work a three-day week during the present crisis.

Lady Cora: That won't affect us, will it, Robert? Round here we tend to work a no-day week.

Enter Lady Sybil, breathless: I've just seen the most amazing man on the televisual apparatus. He's called David Bowie. He sings and plays guitar and had wonderful red hair…

The Earl: Oh no. Not another bloody Irishman to upset the family, I hope?

Lady Sybil: …and I'm totally in love with him and I'm going to marry him, impetuously and against your wishes.

Lady Cora: Does he have a considerable fortune, my child, that might stop Downton being sold and turned into an 18-hole golf links and spa?

The Earl: Carson, ask Mrs Patmore to lay one more place for pizza tomorrow night would you? A Mr Bowie will be joining us.

Carson: Very good, my lord. Shall I lay out some cocaine in the drawing-room?

Lady Violet: I knew a David Bowie once. An American gentleman. He designed knives. We danced together at the Gettysburg Ball. Or am I thinking of Davy Crockett?