Downton Abbey Series 6 written and created by Julian Fellowes gets off to a breezy start in Episode 6, reports our London correspondent.
Please don’t read on if you don’t like spoilers.
The family, led by Lady Cora are all busy with the preparations to open Downton Abbey for the day to both locals and visitors.
Moseley is down in the village handing out Flyers and Posters are up all over the village.
Mary and Tom have decided to help raise funds for the changes required at the hospital.
Dr Clarkson observes how much it costs to maintain good health services.
He’s visiting Lord Grantham who is grumpily confined to bed from where he expresses his disdain for the proposal by Mary and Tom for letting people see ‘how the other half live’.
Ever the optimist downstairs Carson is appalled. He declares that it is wrong to give a glimpse ordinary folk an insight into how they all live.
Who knows, it could end up ensuring a guillotine is erected in Trafalgar Square.
Dowager Violet and Isobel take tea together to discuss the opening and other matters, bantering beautifully together as they do.
His Lordship and Carson discuss the future again when Carson attempts to sneak him a tot of whisky, which his hero Lord Robert has to refuse. His health is now a huge issue.
Mary has decided she and Anna are going back to London overnight for Anna to see her Harley Street Dr Ryder again as she’s anxious about the baby.
Isobel, Lady Cora and Dr Clarkson meet to discuss a letter he’s received informing the decision of the board of Governors to go with their proposal to combine their hospital with York and in direct opposition to Dowager Violet.
He’s to stay in his post; Isobel will remain as Almoner and they invite Lady Cora to take her place as President on the Board.
They are going to ‘allow’ the Dowager Violet to step down after so many years of ‘noble’ service.
How could they have someone managing the new system that would be willing it to fail?
Golly, says Lady Cora who discovers she is going to be given more responsibility.
Who is going to tell ‘her’ she asks?
Indeed. We are quite sure we wouldn’t be brave enough!
Mary and Anna together with Tom who Mary believes needs a break, leave for London.
On the drive Bates expresses his gratitude to Mary and insists he pays the bill.
She is reluctant until Tom explains to her that she must allow him to do so as Bates pride at looking after his family is at stake.
Mr. Mosley goes to see the village schoolmaster, who gives him the date Daisy must sit her exams.
He asks Mr Moseley would he consider taking an exam set by himself with the aim of helping him out. He admires his enthusiasm and plans to give him a test of general knowledge.
Lord Robert and Cora summon Dowager Violet to the house and his bedside, where she berates him about opening the house. But Cora advises that Tom and Mary made the decision and they accept with good grace.
The Dowager changes her tune and asks do they want her to cut a ribbon being the President of the hospital board they are raising funds for.
She declares she will be magnanimous in victory and Cora and Lord Robert look at each other with alarm.
It appears the letter from the board declaring her null and void has not arrived as yet and they certainly don’t want to relay the news.
Cora and Robert discuss her replacing the Dowager on the board and she declares she’s ready for the challenge and wants a job… she’s not old after all.
Up in London Lady Mary prepares for a grand night out as Anna arrives back from the Dr with good news.
They discuss how good Barrow is with the children and Anna declares his interest is genuine; he enjoys their company.
Anna asks if Mr Talbot knows Mary is coming and she declares he doesn’t.
She makes her grand entrance, arriving looking stunning in aqua green silk overlaid with an overlay of golden lace for a dinner that will prove interesting on many fronts.
Henry invites Tom to come to Brooklands and watch him race. Mary says he must ask her nearer the time.
Henry also offers to walk Mary and Tom back to their Hotel, with Tom graciously excusing himself.
Mary is able to have some free time to discuss with Henry how her husband died in a car crash and what the meeting means or them both.
Caught in the rain, they take shelter where he kisses her for the first time.
‘Heavens Mr Talbot is this part of your plan to convince me she asks?
He declares that although he knows that she is a great catch, he’s definitely falling in love with her, an argument she finds compelling.
Tom tells Mary he likes Edith’s beau, and she challenges him asking why would any man want to take Marigold on as well, to which he has no reply.
Bertie finally arrives at Downton Abbey much to Edith’s delight. She invites him to see the children in the ‘night nursery’, but will she tell him her secret?
Mrs Hughes is again struggling with preparing a meal to Mr Carson’s high standard. He’s cross there is no Lemon for his Smoked Salmon entrée and Mrs Hughes is not amused.
She and Mrs Patmore are discussing the results of the evening when Mr Mason turns up and Daisy reveals her jealousy at their growing friendship.
At dinner Bertie asks all the questions the family hasn’t thought of in relation to Open Day and proceeds to gives them a guide to how it should happen.
Meanwhile downstairs Carson is telling all the staff they must look respectable on the day.
Lady Cora and Lord Robert discuss Bertie and he declares he is impressed and doesn’t object to his relationship with Edith, despite his lack of prospects.
Although he doesn’t agree she should tell him about Marigold.
He’s more prone to letting sleeping dogs lie.
Grand Open Day arrives with all the family having to be involved as a great queue forms.
Carson and Moseley, looking stylish in a green apron, set up the entrance table
Hundreds turn up, and all the ladies of the house are pressed into becoming guides for groups of ten.
Lord Robert deals very well with a young village child who wanders into his room where he’s reposing in bed.
The ladies all soon discover that some of the villagers know more about their house and their families history than they do.
It is all very embarrassing, especially when Dowager Violet turns up having received her letter telling her she’s been stood down as President of the hospital and vents her anger at Lady Cora in front of the villagers.
Despite so much angst, the family make pots of money for their worthy cause and there is talk it may happen more regularly.
If all their nerves, both upstairs and down at Downton Abbey, will stand the trauma.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015
Lord Robert Crawley Hugh Bonneville
Lady Cora Crawley Elizabeth McGovern
Lady Violet Crawley Maggie Smith
Lady Mary Crawley Michelle Dockery
Lady Edith Crawley Laura Carmichael
Lady Rosamund Painswick Samantha Bond
Isobel Crawley Penelope Wilton
Tom Branson Allen Leech
Charles Carson Jim Carter
John Bates Brendan Coyle
Thomas Barrow Robert James-Collier
Elsie Hughes Phyllis Logan
Anna Bates Joanne Froggatt
Mrs Patmore Lesley Nicol
Daisy Mason Sophie McShera
Molesley Kevin Doyle
Andy Parker Michael Fox
Images: Courtesy iTV