You’ve seen the trailer, you’ve waited nearly four years, and for superfans like Dee Payne, they’ll get an early look at the new Downtown Abbey film with a special screening Thursday — complete with a costume contest.
“It’s like visiting family again. Everyone is just so excited. I’m on an international Facebook group called Downton Abbey in Depth and everybody on there is just on tenterhooks,” Payne told CBC Radio’s St. John’s Morning Show on Wednesday.
The series, set in 20th century Great Britain, ended in 2015 after a critically acclaimed six season run.
And while the series ended on New Year’s Eve in 1925, fans will be happy to know that the film will pick up exactly where it left off — early 1926.
Payne has gone as far as to witness the Abbey world with her own eyes.
She once made the journey to Highclere Castle, which is one of the most important settings in the entire series — and in history.
“I have an affinity with Highclere Castle anyway. I’ve always been interested in Egyptology and of course the Fifth Earl of Carnarvon was the guy who bankrolled Howard Carter when he discovered King Tutankhamen’s tomb,” Payne said.
“So they have that display in the basement. Walking into the castle, they did very little cosmetic work to the castle for the show, and the castle is one of the stars of the show. It’s breathtaking to walk in. It looks just like the series.”
The castle currently serves as a historical site, with walking tours and availability to rent for events, according to Payne, but the family still lives on the 5,000-acre estate.
Yet the castle remains relatively untouched, a perfect representation within the Downton Abbey series, Payne said.
Downton Abbey fans like to show off their finest period-era duds, and this special, early viewing will have no exceptions. Payne said it takes a while to prepare one’s self in full costume, although she said her costume isn’t as time consuming as most.
“Nobody wore makeup, so everybody’s hair had to look perfect. That’s probably what I’m going to focus on, do an Edwardian up-do kind of thing,” she said.
And while Payne doesn’t have an era-specific lady’s maid to assist her in getting dolled up for the big occasion, she said she will try to convince her husband to dress up too.
“My husband always says to me, ‘I’m not Carson, I’m not your butler,'” Payne said with a laugh.