Downton Abbey makes it big down under

Classic costume drama Downton Abbey has become a surprise hit in Australia.

It pulled in almost two million viewers when it hit the screens last weekend, rivalling Aussie favourite Packed To The Rafters.

Media analyst Steve Allen said: “Downton Abbey is definitely Australia’s most unlikely 2011 hit.”

The ITV1 series, set in an Edwardian country house in 1912, stars upper-crust actor Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham.

It is in complete contrast to Packed To The Rafters which portrays a struggling working-class family.

Bonneville, 47, has won rave reviews. One TV critic said: “Hugh Bonneville is fantastic.

“He’s so posh and obviously can do no wrong.

“The audience just love him, he’s so British.”

In the series, due to return to television in Britain later this year, Bonneville’s character worries about his sexually adventurous daughter, Lady Mary Crawley, played by Michelle Dockery, 29, and fears for the future of his estate.

Off screen Dockery is a part-time jazz singer and occasionally appears with Sadie And The Hotheads, a band formed by Elizabeth McGovern, 49, who plays Bonneville’s wife in Downton Abbey.

Related Links: Downton Abbey Tour of Locations

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