Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 18th 2013 Contents Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess Grantham, is shown in a scene from the second season on Downton
Abbey. AP PHOTO
August 18, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
LONDON---Forget Mad Men mod-
ernism. This season's style is all about
Downton Abbey's Edwardian opu-
Millions around the world have been
seduced by the straight-laced but stylish
world of the British historical drama.
Soon they'll be able to take some of
that style home, getting lips as soft as
Lady Mary's, wine inspired by Lord
Grantham's favorite tipple---and even
walls as gray as Mrs Patmore's kitchen.
Since it premiered in 2010, the series
about the family and servants of a grand
English house in the 1910s and 1920s
has become a television juggernaut, sold
to 220 territories around the world.
The programme's makers have
arguably been slow to exploit the com-
mercial potential of that popularity
through merchandising, selling little
more than DVD sets, wall calendars and
desk diaries. But that is about to change.
Along with the fourth season starting
on British TV next month, and on PBS
in January, comes a range of merchan-
dise that includes a board game, home-
wares, clothes, beauty products, and
even Downton wine.
All in the best possible taste, of
"We haven't rushed into it," executive
producer Gareth Neame told The Asso-
ciated Press last week. "We don't want
to carpet bomb the retail sector."
In keeping with the programme's
posh-frothy image, the products being
rolled out aim to be quirky rather than
This fall, British retail chain Marks
& Spencer will be selling a Downton
Abbey beauty line, including soap, nail
polish, lip gloss, lotion and scented can-
dles. The items are whimsically packaged
and adorned with quotations from the
series, including the advice offered by
Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess of
Grantham in the first episode: "No one
wants to kiss a girl in black."
Downton merchandising in the US
and Canada is handled by Knockout
Licensing, which has struck deals for
a jewelry range from Danbury Mint and
Downton-themed Christmas ornaments
from Kurt Adler---both going on sale
later this year.
It also has a licensing agreement with
figurine manufacturer Bradford
Exchange, raising fans' hopes for a range
of Downton dolls---Scheming Thomas
and Admirable Bates, perhaps.
North American fans also can soon
drink Downton Abbey wine, marketed
by Wines That Rock, the California
company behind Rolling Stones' 40
Licks Merlot and Pink Floyd's Dark Side
of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon. The
Downton red is a genteel departure for
the firm, a French claret reminiscent of
those favored by the early 20th-century
Cele Otnes, a professor of marketing
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign, says the richly detailed
world of Downton Abbey is key to view-
ers' intense bond with the show.
She likens it to Mad Men---"It's not
just a television programme, it's really
an aesthetic"---and cites reported rises
in sales of cravats, waistcoats and sherry
as evidence of a Downton-driven
appetite for Edwardian elegance.
"It's that whole thing about present-
ing a lifestyle," she said. "We get in the
house, we get inside these characters'
lives. We see inside their bedrooms,
their bathrooms, their kitchens. We can
absorb ourselves not only in the story,
which is compelling, but in the details
of their lives."
No detail is too small for emulation---
down to the paint on the abbey walls.
Mylands, the London-based paint
company that supplies the show with
historically accurate pigments, recently
began marketing two of its Downton
tones to the public---Amber Gray, the
colour of the downstairs kitchen over-
seen by cook Mrs Patmore, and Empire
Gray, which adorns Mr Carson's butler's
These are not just any greys. They
are Downton greys.
"On the sets they look quite dark
because they use them below stairs,"
said Mylands spokeswoman Simone
Barker. But in real life, "they do look
Otnes hopes Downton's makers keep
the products tasteful rather than tacky.
As a fan, she urges producers to "take
a page from Lord and Lady Grantham's
pool of reserve" and limit the range of
"I hope they don't over-market the
show," she said.
Neame---who heads Downton pro-
duction company Carnival Films, owned
by NBC Universal---isn't worried.
"I don't have a nervous attitude about
the idea of merchandising," said Neame,
who personally approves every item of
merchandise. "When a show is this
global and this loved, I don't see any
problem with offering products to hard-
ened fans who want to extend their
relationship with the show that they
"We are businesspeople. We are run-
ning a business, which is to create intel-
lectual property and to monetise it. We
sell as many DVDs as we can, and we
sell the show in as many countries as
we can, and you know what, by doing
that we get the money on the screen
and it allows me to finance other shows
that we want to make and employ peo-
ple. So I'm not coy about the merchan-
dising and its purpose." (AP)
Downton Abbey enters merchandise fray
"It's not just a television
programme, it's really an
It's that whole thing about
presenting a lifestyle. We get in
the house, we get inside these
characters' lives. We see inside
their bedrooms, their
bathrooms, their kitchens. We
can absorb ourselves not only in
the story, which is compelling,
but in the details of their lives."
PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF
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