‘Downton Abbey’ Producers Had a Strict ‘No-Wash’ Policy, Leaving Cast Stinky

Downton Abbey is one of the most popular television shows ever to air on British television. Consequently, it became a hit with American audiences, resonating with viewers of all ages and backgrounds.

While Downton Abbey went off the air in 2015, it was followed up by a hit movie, which continued the story that the series started — and these days, it remains as popular as ever before. Showrunners and actors who worked on Downton Abbey were completely committed to realism when filming the show, and reportedly, their dedication created a bit of a smelly situation backstage. 

What is ‘Downton Abbey’ about?

Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern on the set of 'Downton Abbey'
Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern on the set of ‘Downton Abbey’ | Vera Anderson/WireImage

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Downton Abbey first premiered on British television in 2010 and began airing on American screens not long after. The series is set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, around the year 1912.

It tells the story of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants and staff. While the focus of the series is the family, and the relationships that they have with each other and their staff, historical events that take place in the larger world have a major influence on the proceedings — including events such as the sinking of the Titanic.

Over the years, the Crawley family must necessarily advance with the times, which changes the way that their household looks. Ultimately, tragedy, pathos, and love are themes that are present throughout each season of the hit show.

What awards and honors has ‘Downton Abbey’ won?

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Downton Abbey was recognized right away by critics as well as fans. All in all, the series has received twenty-seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations, winning a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. Downton Abbey has also been honored with a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film, and is considered by many to be the most successful British series of all time. 

Downton Abbey has the unique distinction of being a British show that has millions of American fans. Whether it is the historical setting, the flawless performances, or the thrill of watching the two different classes interact with each other, some element of the show has captured the imagination of American viewers everywhere – even those who might not have normally tuned in to British programming. 

Why aren’t the costumes washed during the filming of ‘Downton Abbey’?

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Becoming one of the world’s biggest shows doesn’t happen without a lot of dedication and commitment to detail. Downton Abbey is a show that is noted for accuracy, but this sometimes comes at a price and no small amount of discomfort for the actors inhabiting the roles.

According to Mental Floss, producers on Downton Abbey instituted a “no-wash” policy for all the costumes, in order to keep everything looking (and feeling) like the early 1900s. “We do stink, as they don’t wash our costumes,” actress Sophie McShera revealed. “They have these weird patches, which are sewn into the armpits and which they wash separately.”

This interesting detail only proves that the actors who work on Downton Abbey are truly committed to doing what it takes for the sake of their craft. 

With a new Downton Abbey movie sequel on the horizon, fans will get to enjoy even more of their favorite characters in the near future — even though the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily sidelined filming.