Downton Abbey dog Isis named after in-joke with real Grantham family, says Julian Fellowes

The Labrador is named after Lord Carnarvon's interest in Egyptology and has no connection whatsoever to the extremist jihadi group

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The Independent Culture

Julian Fellowes has revealed the real reason why the Downton Abbey dog has such an unfortunate name.

The golden Labrador Isis, who looked to be on her last legs in Sunday night’s episode, is named after an in-joke relating to the real Grantham family’s connection to Egyptology.

“Isis was the senior goddess of ancient Egypt. The first dog was called Pharaoh for similar reasons. It is a gag we have with the Carnarvons, because of Highclere’s connection to Egyptology,” Fellowes told The Telegraph.

The Earl of Carnarvon, who lived in Highclere castle where Downton Abbey is set, financed Howard Carter’s expedition that eventually led to the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.


The Labrador’s name has no connection with the militant Islamic group, having first appeared in series two in 2012.

However, her choice of name has raised eyebrows among fans, with a number tweeting that the dog’s name is “#awkward”.

Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)

A spokesman for ITV insisted that the dog’s name is pure coincidence.

“At the time the dog was named, and up to and including the majority of filming of series five, no one was using that acronym to describe a terror group. It is an unfortunate coincidence,” she said.

Downton Abbey continues on ITV on Sunday 2 November at 9pm.

Read more: Will the Downton Abbey dog Isis survive?
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