Support the Café

Search our Site

God is written out of “Downton Abbey.”

God is written out of “Downton Abbey.”

Presumably the Crawley family is Church of England, but the only time you’ll see anything remotely religious on “Downton Abbey” is during a wedding.

The Telegraph:

…the man tasked with ensuring the historical accuracy of the series has revealed why Downton does not do God. Alastair Bruce, who serves as the show’s historical advisor, said that executives in charge of the series had ordered producers to “leave religion out of it”, for fear of alienating an increasingly atheistic public.

Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that the Crawley family is never shown in the process of sitting down to dinner, with the action instead shown from part-way through the meal. This, Mr Bruce said, was to avoid having to show the characters saying grace.

He added: “In essence you hardly ever see a table that isn’t already sat at. We never see the beginning of a luncheon or a dinner, because no one was ever allowed to see a grace being said, and I would never allow them to sit down without having said grace.

“I think that the view was that we’d leave religion out of it, and it would’ve taken extra time too. I suggested a Latin grace, but they decided that was too far, and no one would’ve known what was going on.”

The absence has not gone entirely unnoticed.

The lack of religious references in Downton has been a topic of debate in America, where the series is wildly popular and airs on the PBS channel. The flagship American evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, has noted: “God is a peripheral presence at best.”


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alan Christensen

At least here in America there’s typically very little religious presence in prime-time TV. I can think of a couple series that were in a church setting–the short-lived “The Book of Daniel,” the more successful “Amen,” and a current show called “Impastor”–but aside from that type of show the instances where characters’ faith comes into play are pretty few and far between.

Pete Haynsworth

There’s also “The Choir.“ Takes place mostly on a cathedral close. Have a beautiful CD of the series’ soundtrack, but haven’t found a DVD. Was pretty intriguing watching for someone who spent 5 years at a choir school

Reese Rickards

The plot lines of Downton Abby often parallel those of Upstairs Downstairs from the 1970s. I don’t remember what they did upstairs, but Mr. Hudson the butler always began meals in the downstairs kitchen with grace.

Nancy Platt

Then there was Lady Edith’s non-wedding right inside a lovely C of E church.

Anne Bay

I discovered “The Vicar of Dibly” a few years ago. Typical English humour. So much church humour in it with regards to vestries, the relationship of the clergy to the laity, and trying to maintain a good relationship with the small community. I haven’t watched it in quite a while, I’ll have to get it out again. It’s good for a smile.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café