Downton Abbey’s unexpected connection to Emmerdale and Corrie uncovered

ITV’s former Director of TV Peter Fincham has revealed the unexpected connection popular period drama Downton Abbey has to beloved soaps Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

Joining journalist Mariella Frostrup on the brand new TV reviews podcast Have You Seen?, Peter spoke about the surprising link.

In a discussion of Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes’ US-based show The Gilded Age with podcast guest Rachel Parris, Peter remembered first commissioning Downton for ITV.

Peter said: “The only influence I had on Downton Abbey is that at one point in the conversations about it, I said to him [Julian Fellowes], ‘Where is Downton Abbey, where is it in the country?’.

“And he basically said to me, ‘Where do you want it to be?’. So I said, ‘Well because the ITV audience, they love Coronation Street, they love Emmerdale and so on, can it be in the North?’

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“And he said, ‘Alright, I’ll put it in Yorkshire’,” Peter explained, revealing the location that connected all three shows together.

“So, if you watch Downton Abbey, you’ll get occasional references to ‘going shopping in Rippon’ or ‘taking the train from Leeds’ – this is entirely because of this conversation,” he added.

The main filming location of Downton Abbey is actually in Highclere Castle, Newbury, which lies west of London and not far from the M4.

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Peter later admitted: “I always think it’s the least convincing thing about it to be perfectly honest because Highclere Castle is near Newbury…

“And it feels the least Northern series ever made, but actually it is set in Yorkshire!”

Downton Abbey is set in the early 20th century and first aired on ITV in 2010.

The show ran for six series and fifty-two episodes, including five Christmas specials, and became the most successful British costume drama since the 1981 television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited.

After the show concluded in 2015, two follow-up films were released in 2019 and 2022.

Have You Seen? is available to listen to on all podcast platforms.

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