Downton Abbey devotees may flock to their TV sets in the millions for the series’ stunning sets and high drama, but during the holiday season, its stars showed that they can convey more than just pomp and circumstance in front of the camera. As part of ITV’s fourth Text Santa campaign, the lords and ladies of Downton revealed their comedic chops to help raise funds and support for charities in the United Kingdom. Featuring the talents of none other than guest star George Clooney, the sketch was part of the network’s most successful Christmas fundraiser to date!
Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery and Elizabeth McGovern did well to keep straight faces as the clip revealed that Lord Grantham had ruinously mismanaged the family’s estate again, and borrowed from the It’s a Wonderful Life playbook when Robert learned what life at Downton might’ve been like without him. Who was the inspired choice to play Robert’s angelic, female Clarence? None other than AbFab’s Queen of Debauchery, Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley). Of course, Robert found that somehow things were even worse in his absence. At first horrified by his family’s improper fraternization with an American “tradesman” (none other than Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge), his lordship’s gentle sensibilities were only rattled further upon his descent to the servants’ quarters.
But even the boozy card party he encountered downstairs couldn’t prepare Robert for the most upsetting revelation of all – the man who would replace him as the Earl of Grantham. Though Clooney’s charming Lord Hollywood had even Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess swooning, the real master of Downton Abbey was far from won over, and it wasn’t long before he was convinced that the house was better off with him than without. Full of winks and nods, including references to stars’ careers away from the show and an appearance from series creator Julian Fellowes himself, the two-part webisode had plenty to keep fans chuckling (and giving generously).
Here’s hoping that some of that comedic flair has found its way into the upcoming fifth season of Downton Abbey! In the meantime, you can catch the Dowager’s most cutting quips and Mary’s dry humour daily at 5pm ET/2pm PT as VisionTV’s encore presentation of seasons 1-4 continues through to February 3. VisionTV will premiere Downton Abbey Season 5 in early April.
Watch Parts 1 & 2 of the Downton Abbey for Text Santa sketch below: