Need a ‘Downton Abbey’ Refresher Before the Movie? The Cast Recaps the Entire Series in 10 Minutes

It’s time to go back to Downton Abbey, but can you tell your Mrs. Hughes from your Mrs. Patmore? And do you remember exactly what happened with between Lady Mary and the handsome Mr. Pamuk, or why Sir Anthony Strallan jilted poor Lady Edith at the altar? If not, never fear. The stars of the PBS series have a handy 10-minute recap of the series. This short-and-sweet summary will cover everything you need to know before you watch the Downton Abbey movie. 

‘Downton Abbey’ in 10 minutes 

Downton Abbey‘s six-season run ended in 2016. So it’s understandable that if in the intervening three years even the most loyal Downton fans have forgotten some key plot points. Thankfully, Jim Carter (the by-the-book butler Mr. Carson) and Phyllis Logan (kind-hearted housekeeper Mrs. Hughes) are here to remind you of the key events in the show — and in just 10 minutes. 

“Have you not seen Downton Abbey yet?” asks Carter. “Or perhaps you need a refresher?” He and Logan than explain most of the major events in Downton Abbey. 

From the sinking of the Titanic to a happy ending for all 

Over its 54 episodes, Downton Abbey put many of its characters through the wringer, as they had to deal with tragedies large and small. The show began in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic, a disaster that claimed the life of the male Crawley heir, who was supposed to marry the snooty Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and inherit the entire estate from her father, the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville). (Mary can’t inherit herself because of a quirk in English law.)

The sinking of the Titanic is merely the first disaster to befall the members of the aristocratic Crawley family. They faced a range of crises over the course of the show, from the death of Lady Mary’s husband — and Downton heir — Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) in a car crash to the loss of youngest daughter Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay), who succumbs to eclampsia after she gives birth to her daughter with the family’s chauffeur, Tom Branson (Allen Leech). And then there’s middle daughter Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), who is constantly in the shadow of her older sister. She’s not only abandoned by her fiancé, but later finds herself pregnant out of wedlock after her affair with the married Michael Gregson ends when he’s murdered by Nazis in Munich. 

Below stairs, the servants have their own problems, from ambitious (and closeted) valet Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) whose scheming is always landing him in hot water to Anna (Joanna Frogatt) and Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), whose relationship is threatened first by his arrest (for the murder of his first wife), then hers (for the murder of her rapist). (Don’t worry, both are innocent.) 

Clearly, there was plenty of soapy drama in Downton Abbey. But the series finale wrapped everything up in a nice bow, with all the characters finding happiness. So what’s going to happen in the movie? 

What to expect from the ‘Downton Abbey’ movie

Downton Abbey movie
Downton Abbey | Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

The Downton Abbey movie takes place in 1927, about a year after the events of the series finale. King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) are visiting Downton, which has everyone all aflutter with anticipation. 

Almost all of the original cast is back for the film, and the various characters are dealing with the preparations for the royal visit, from the overwhelmed Barrow (who was finally promoted to butler in the series finale) to the other below-stairs staff who are put out when the royal servants show up and start ordering people around. Upstairs, Lady Edith is having a dress crisis, Branson is flirting with one of the visiting lady’s maids, and the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) is feuding with a cousin over an inheritance. We can only assume that the royal visit and dinner is ultimately pulled off with nary a hitch and that the guests — and movie audiences — will go home happy.

Downton Abbey is in theater on September 20.

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