In 2010, what would be one of the most followed and critically acclaimed period series was released. ‘Downton Abbey’ It took place in Yorkshire, England, in 1912, in the Downton mansion, owned by the Crawleys, a family of aristocrats with whose adventures – and those of their servants – the viewer was understanding the turbulent changes of the early twentieth century. Everything started with a tragedy: the sinking of the Titanic. The family was fully affected because the heir to Downton Abbey who was on the imposing ship passed away. In his place came Matthew Crawley, a young, middle-class lawyer who was not to the liking of the clan.
The marriage of Robert and Cora stuck because they had not had boys, and it will be their eldest daughter, Mary, who ends up marrying Matthew. The series ended in 2015 after the airing of six seasons, with the comings and goings of its leading actors and some really great cameos, like those of Shirley MacLaine, Paul Giamatti or Tom Cullen. Among her awards, 11 Emmy and three Golden Globes, some of them for the magnificent performances of Joanne Froggatt, as the long-suffering Anna Bates, lady Mary’s maid, and especially Maggie Smith, memorable as the corseted widowed Countess of Grantham, mother of Robert. His success was such that in 2019 a continuation in the form of a film was released. What’s more, in December of this year a sequel will hit theaters whose main plot will be the visit of the kings of England to the castle, very much in tune with the phenomenon. ‘The Crown’.
After this overwhelming repercussion with ‘Downton Abbey’, a decade after its premiere, its creator, the writer Julian Fellowes, strikes again with ‘Belgravia’, a nod to the chicest neighborhood in London in the 19th century. Known for the film ‘Gosford Park’ (2001), with which he won the Oscar for best screenplay, the novelist once again embarks on a period drama, this time, starring a merchant family, the Trenchards, who will be involved in the intrigues, betrayals and love affairs more typical of the nobles for whom they work. Again, we find a choral cast, this time, of familiar faces, and with a new narrative incentive since the plot is divided into two timelines.
The miniseries begins in June 1915 in Brussels, in the middle of the Napoleonic wars, when the Duchess of Richmond celebrates a gala ball for the Duke of Wellington that is interrupted by the imminent arrival of Napoleon who had crossed the border and the entry into the war of some of the officers present, which it would lead to the Battle of Waterloo and, although Wellington won it, to innumerable casualties (one in four officers would die in it dressed in the costumes they wore to the party). In that posh gala for the elite of society, the Trenchards are invited, even if they are a little out of place, and from that sarao a news will emerge that we will find out more in depth 26 years later. After the jump in time, the story is set in Victorian London, specifically in Belgravia, the neighborhood of the aristocrats and that middle class that had been enriched by the industrial revolution. In these wonderful mansions, the ambitions of the wealthiest class find their reflection in those of their servants, and the secrets of the past will cease to be so to turn the apparent situation of normality upside down.
Without revealing much more, let’s say the intrigues, impossible alliances and gossip will have to do with the heirs of two families that are like night and day. On the one hand, the patriarch of the Trenchard, nicknamed The Magician, a businessman with some success and who longs to be part of the elite, whose daughter, Sophia, catches the attention of Edmund, Viscount of Bellasis and nephew of the Duchess of Richmond. From this unusual alliance – he is the heir to one of the wealthiest families in England – the mystery arises that more than two decades later will come to light as both families coincide in the Belgravia neighborhood.
In addition to the servants, with comments with sharp teeth that ooze irony (like that maid who compares one of the women for her arrogance to “the first infanta of Spain”), the interpretations of Tamsin Greig stand out in this six-episode miniseries. (‘Episodes’), as the Trenchard matriarch, and Harriet Walter (‘Killing Eve’), as Lady Brockenhurst. Their encounters are a delight, with their heart-stopping wardrobe and their delicate cups of tea with a light drip of acidic lemon, as if hypocrisy and secrets made them grit their teeth. A drama full of salsa, but far from freer proposals such as ‘The Bridgertons’. Here, he engages the difference of classes, at the same time that he aspires to eliminate that invisible barrier with a universal message: love, in effect, can do everything.