Downton Abbey: Season 1 (2011)

SEASON:

Season 1
Downton Abbey

Critics Consensus

Downton Abbey transcends its soapy plotting with witty dialogue, lavish costumes and sets, and an outstanding cast.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 24

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 172

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Episodes

1
Air date: Jan 9, 2011
2
Air date: Jan 16, 2011
3
Air date: Jan 23, 2011
4
Air date: Jan 30, 2011

Downton Abbey: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

The acclaimed costume drama opens in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic, which punctures the succession plans of Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), the Earl of Grantham -- his title and estate are legally entailed to only pass to a male, and he and his wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) have only produced daughters Mary ( Michelle Dockery) , Edith ( Laura Carmichael) and Sybil ( Jessica Brown Findlay). Mary, the eldest, had been slated to marry a distant cousin who was aboard the doomed ship with his father, the presumptive heir. And although Cora and Robert's tart-tongued mother ( Maggie Smith) think he should break the entailment so that the family's fortune can be left to the children, to do so would likely mean the end of his beloved estate; British laws at the time excluded women from inheriting property. Thus, he instead undertakes a search for a new heir, and finds one in the form of young middle-class solicitor Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), who arrives at Downton with his own outspoken mother (Penelope Wliton). As the first season progresses, Mary and Matthew come to share something of a love-hate relationship; Mary weathers a potentially scandalous incident; and Sybil begins to show an interest in politics. A la the classic "Upstairs, Downstairs," the series also delves into the lives of the estate's staff, including by-the-book butler Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), first footman Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) and Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), Robert's former batman-turned-valet.

Cast

Hugh Bonneville
as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham
Jessica Brown Findlay
as Lady Sybil Crawley
Laura Carmichael
as Lady Edith Crawley
Jim Carter
as Mr. Carson
Brendan Coyle
as John Bates
Michelle Dockery
as Lady Mary Crawley
Siobhan Finneran
as Sarah O'Brien
Thomas Howes
as William Mason
Rob James-Collier
as Thomas Barrow
Phyllis Logan
as Mrs. Hughes
Elizabeth McGovern
as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham
Sophie McShera
as Daisy Mason
Lesley Nicol
as Mrs. Patmore
Maggie Smith
as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham
Dan Stevens
as Matthew Crawley
Penelope Wilton
as Isobel Crawley
Charlie Cox
as Duke of Crowborough
Kevin Doyle
as Joseph Molesley
Robert Bathurst
as Sir Anthony Strallan
Bernard Gallagher
as Bill Molesley
Samantha Bond
as Lady Rosamund Painswick
Allen Leech
as Tom Branson
Brendan Patrick
as Evelyn Napier
David Robb
as Dr. Clarkson
Helen Sheals
as Postmaster's Wife
Catherine Balavage
as Suffragette
Jonathan Coy
as George Murray
Theo James
as Kemal Pamuk
Fergus O'Donnell
as John Drake
Cathy Sara
as Mrs. Drake
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Downton Abbey: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Downton Abbey Season 1

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (13)

It will satisfy the commoner in all of us, and for the toffs, Downton Abbey is as bracing as a good day's hunting.

Jun 29, 2016 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Downton Abbey captures everything that viewers loved about Upstairs, Downstairs or Pride and Prejudice.

Jun 29, 2016 | Full Review…

The story is so smartly written by Fellowes, and the characters are so well-acted, that it all feels engagingly fresh - and poignant, too.

Jun 29, 2016 | Full Review…

Downton Abbey will transfix viewers with a story, a feeling, a lifestyle that has proved to have limitless appeal.

Jun 29, 2016 | Full Review…

There is no mystery about the potency of this series, slathered in wit, powered by storytelling of a high order.

Jun 29, 2016 | Full Review…

Compulsively watchable from the get-go, Downton Abbey fulfills the Masterpiece designation more faithfully than just about anything else to grace the PBS showcase in years.

Jun 29, 2016 | Full Review…
Top Critic

It's not unreasonable to expect a period drama like Downton Abbey to offer scenes of illicit romance and unexpected death -- but at the same time? All that, and there's a fox hunt, too.

Mar 29, 2019 | Full Review…

Great care has been taken to keep them pleasant and approachable, even when the things they say are sometimes shown to be class-bound and unfeeling.

Nov 6, 2018 | Full Review…

Downton Abbey feels ripe with potential, both for addictively gossipy tales of relationships and rivalries as well as for longer arcs of social change and historical unravelling.

Jul 18, 2018 | Full Review…

Despite somewhat soapier tendencies, Downton Abbey is maintaining its stiff upper-crust lip.

Jun 25, 2018 | Full Review…

Watching Downton Abbey is like curling up with a really satisfying book.

Jun 29, 2016 | Full Review…

As a new year begins, viewers will be hard-pressed to find a more sumptuous, engaging drama than the Masterpiece Classic miniseries Downton Abbey.

Jun 29, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Downton Abbey: Season 1

  • 12h ago
    Great introduction to better things to come.
  • Jun 25, 2020
    Downton Abbey is a very well-made period drama that has a certain warmth to it. The costumes and cinematography are beautiful, and the cast simply clicks, with most of the actors bringing gravitas to roles that are rather cartoony on paper. The show features the wealthy, and is perhaps guilty of romanticizing them, but it also dedicates screen time to the plight of the lower classes, especially the servants. It is simply a pleasure to sit down and watch, escapist entertainment that is relatively light without devolving into complete corniness. Some of the plots are a bit too soapy-silly (literally, a character slips on a bar of soap and has a miscarriage at one point), and the ceaseless bickering and plotting of some of the servants every episode is repetitive. But these are small complaints, and the soap opera stylings often add to the show's charm as much as they detract from it.
  • May 07, 2020
    Downton Abbey is a period tv show that centers on a rich family and their estate. I'm not sure what I like about it but something just feels right. Maybe it's the excellent depiction of the era or the cinematography. I'm not sure.
  • Feb 23, 2020
    Certainly well made and written, Downton Abbey fails to establish any sort of emotional weight to its characters or storylines beyond political intrigue and petty drama. What should matter is glossed over, and what ends up at the forefront is unremarkable; the fate of the estate's heir merits hardly a tear, while the local flower competition forms an intense battle of wills that takes an entire episode to resolve (and is completely lifted from Mrs. Miniver, minus the uplifting elements).
  • Nov 13, 2019
    This show is perfection. The storylines, characterization, costumes, sets, etc. all beautifully done. Bravo!
  • Jul 19, 2018
    (S1) I love it but sometimes it's a bit boring
  • Dec 30, 2017
    So great! Multiple fascinating story lines and characters.
  • Nov 12, 2017
    Cool Brittanica and a wonderful view into the everyday machinations of 2 social hierarchies.
  • Jun 24, 2017
    Witty dialogue, lavish costumes and sets, and an outstanding cast.
  • Oct 31, 2016
    I resisted jumping on the Downton Abbey bandwagon for years. I finally watched the last episode of season six, which is the last episode of the entire series and I was instantly hooked! I subsequently watched the entire series on Netflix. Season one is phenomenal!

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