It’s back. Da da da da da da da Downton Abbey. With Shirley Maclaine. Yes, Shirley Maclaine as the mother of Cora – everyone was so excited about it. They built up her arrival for the first hour of the programme and then she was a bit of damp squib really. Some put-downs of the English and their traditions, and some mild criticisms of her grand-daughters, an attempt at a face-off with Violet, but no good one-liners to get the cackling going.
But Mary and Matthew actually, finally, got married. I was half expecting the ghost of Mr Pamuk to halt the ceremony, but no more will-they/won’t-they for this series. In fact a rather tame opening episode without many absurdities. So what is old Fellowes going to surprise us with this series? My predictions:
1. Tom Branson gets killed in the Irish Troubles. Sybil has to come back to DA a widow with her baby. Seriously, was she still meant to be pregnant? I was very confused. I thought she had given birth in Ireland during the Xmas special.
2. Cousin Patrick comes back, without the bandages, and vies for Edith’s affections with Robert Bathurst.
3. Miss O’Brien and Mr Moseley (Mrs Crawley’s butler) have an affair. I saw those looks.
4. Mr Bates actually murders his cell-mate, and so has to stay in prison for life.
5. Daisy and Mrs Padmore bicker all series.
6. Matthew and Mary spend the inheritance from Lavinia’s father but then the earlier heir turns up from the Indian tea-plantations and demands it back. However, he also falls in love with Edith and she has another suitor for her affections.
7. Penelope Wilton and Shirley Maclaine become bootleggers for the American prohibition.
8. A black character is introduced. [One can wish]
9. Lord Grantham has to get a job. He opens a shop with his wife, Cora.
10. Evil Thomas finally becomes head Butler after driving the new footman, Alfred, away and sending Mr Carson to the asylum.