The 1 Detail ‘Downton Abbey’ Kept Getting Wrong

Downton Abbey fans love their favorite period drama for that polite English reserve, its elegance, and its satisfying storylines. It fully plunges viewers into a different era that feels as though one has emerged from a vacuum when the closing credits roll.

The cast of 'Downton Abbey'
The cast of ‘Downton Abbey’ | Gary Gershoff/WireImage

From the costumes to the historical points to vehicles used, Downton gets so much right. Find out the detail the beloved drama was off the mark with.

Julian Fellowes’ response to those pointing out inaccuracies

When the series began in 2010, show creator Julian Fellowes was buffeted by claims of minor inaccuracies throughout the script, from expressions viewers felt weren’t yet in use to historically inappropriate props.

At the time, Fellowes told British network ITV how diligently he and the show’s staff worked to make sure Downton Abbey was accurate.

“The real problem is with people who are insecure socially, and they think to show how smart they are by picking holes in the program to promote their own poshness and to show that their knowledge is greater than your knowledge.”

“The fact of the matter is that the really posh people are pleased to see something on television that isn’t about a dead prostitute in a dustbin, and they seem to just be enjoying the program.”

The detail checker on ‘Downton Abbey’

Major General Alastair Bruce was the show’s historical consultant for its six-season run and its recent feature film. Bruce made sure that all details on the program correctly showed aristocratic family life in the 1910s and 1920s. He also had to be sure every detail was right concerning the family’s servants.

“I take the view everyone forgets everything—I don’t trust the fact that they might remember a single thing,” Bruce told Town and Country earlier this year. “My role is to make sure that [the cast] completely comprehend the period, and the way I start is I tell them to suspend all their current political thoughts because, in my experience, most actors have quite strong, very admirable liberal views about the world.”

What ‘Downton Abbey’ has gotten wrong

The Downton Abbey cast nicknamed Bruce “the oracle” because of his vast knowledge. It’s not surprising his well of insight is so deep considering he has worked as a historical adviser to Oscar-winning films such as The King’s Speech (2010) and The Young Victoria (2009).

For Downton, he also advised on the smallest details of early 20th-century protocol, including how everyone should dress, whether their posture was correct, and even how to correctly step out of an automobile.

So what did Downton get wrong, according to Bruce? It was the actors touching or showing affection in scenes. It just wasn’t done in the early 20th century.

“My role is to try and make sure actors … don’t touch each other because nobody did in the 1920s,” Bruce told CinemaBlend last week. “Why? Because they didn’t have antibiotics.”

It’s his dedication to this level of detail that has made the series and the movie such a pleasure to watch.

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