Sep 5, 2014
The fifth series of Downton Abbey debuts in the US in January of 2015. I already adore the program -- even if sometimes I have issues with it -- but I adore it even more after a visit to Ealing Studios in London in April.
Ealing made some of the greatest films ever, and some of my all-time personal faves. I have serious crushes on a few of their actresses, too: Googie Withers, Joan Greenwood, and Valerie Hobson. Kind Hearts and Coronets, Dead of Night, Pink String and Sealing Wax, Passport to Pimlico, The Ladykillers, It Always Rains on Sunday, The Lavender Hill Mob, etc, are all magnificent motion pictures, made at a tiny studio in the decidedly not posh, but pleasant London suburb, Ealing.
Ealing ceased as a production company in the Fifties, and sold their sound stages to the BBC. The Dennis Potter BBC masterpiece, The Singing Detective was shot there.
But, in the Nineties, Ealing became an independent, for hire, studio. In fact, Shaun of the Dead was shot there. That is right. The Winchester was in London!
And, then I found out that Downton Abbey shoots there, as well.
All the "downstairs" servant's rooms, kitchen, etc, is really shot at Ealing.
So, while all the rich posh characters get to shoot at the luxurious manse up north, all the servants are working at Ealing.
I find that hilarious.
Another cool thing about Ealing is that there is a pub, The Red Lion, right across the street, where all the actors, directors, and technicians used to frequent after work.
Oftentimes, the wives of the Ealing folks would call, wondering where their husband was. The Ealing staff would reply, "He's on Stage Six."
There were only five sound stages at Ealing. Stage Six was the Red Lion. The pub even has a nice Stage Six plaque at the entrance now.
And, I have been told that many of Downton Abbey crew and cast frequent the Red Lion, too.