Julian Fellowes was rather upset last year about criticisms pointing out inaccuracies in the first series of Downton Abbey:
"There was also an assumption in the media that the complainant was automatically correct and we were wrong, which was frustrating... When there was a television aerial in shot, as there was once, I was happy to hold my hands up. But I expended a lot of energy getting agitated about accusations that such-and-such piece of music wasn't released until 1922, when in fact it was being played in 1910. Or the butler should have been in uniform when they came out of uniform in the Regency period - I mean, just shut up!"
Fellowes added: "This year I think it might be nice to have a column called 'This Week's Downton Blunders', where I have the right of reply and can say either, 'It's a fair cop' or, 'No, we got it right, they did wear bathing costumes in 1761' or whatever. That might be a much better way of handling all the excitement."
In the absence of such a column, I once again feel the need to comment on one or two of the latest blunders. Now the Abbey itself has opened as a convalescent home for officers there’s no improvement in the sardine-tin formation of the beds, and still no room for lockers or anywhere to keep personal items. Mrs. Crawley seems to be conducting affairs at Downton, and with Major Clarkson and Lady Sybil spending every waking minute there as well, it makes me wonder what’s happening down at Downton village cottage hospital. It was chaos there last week, and with 50% of the staff gone, things must be reaching a critical point. I say 50%, but with Thomas moving down the road as well, more like 75%.
Thomas Barrow. In the first series he was exposed at Downton as a thief. With war on the horizon he decided to jump before he was dismissed and joined the Territorial branch of the Royal Army Medical Corps. This ensured (so he thought) that he would get a cushy number when the wartime chips were down. Somehow he ended up in the thick of the fighting, having a few fags in a trench under constant bombardment. I can’t quite work out what he was actually doing in that trench. Was he attached to a Regimental Aid Post, or attached to a Field Ambulance perhaps? If it was ever explained, I missed it. Apologies. He intentionally exposed himself to sniper fire and after recovering from his self-inflicted injury, and by the miracles of modern television script-writing, he ends up in charge of the convalescent home at Downton Abbey.
Thomas Barrow. Thief, liar, manipulator, coward. Just the man for the job. Well, not exactly, as no UK convalescent home had RAMC staff. There was absolutely no way a RAMC corporal (sorry, Acting-Sergeant) would work in that type of unit or give orders to sick officers. Complete drivel and tosh. There should at least have been a trained nurse, but unfortunately no provision has been made for even one in this series.
The surprise of the week (errors no longer being surprises) came when Lady Mary announced that a friend of the family wanted to come to Downton from Middlesbrough to convalesce, and both Mrs. Crawley and Major Clarkson were up in arms.
‘Middlesbrough General will have their own arrangements about where their officers convalesce’ declared Mrs. C. And Major C. agreed:
‘Downton must function as part of the official system or it can’t function at all.’
So Lord Fellowes KNOWS there was an official system – that rather took my breath away. Is it better to know about something and choose to ignore it, or make errors because you failed to do the research and never knew about it at all? (Vote NOW). And I must just add here (pedant that I am) that there was only one military hospital in Middlesbrough, not the General Hospital, and no officer beds in the town at all.
However I did notice one bit of light flickering in the drawing-room when the near-exploding Carson exclaimed:
‘So we just make it up as we go along?’
Spot on, Carson.