Sheila, I think Cora’s accent is the accent of an American who has been living in England for 25 years—which is the case both for Cora and for Elizabeth McGovern, the actress who plays her. It *is* an odd accent, I agree, but I’m finding it kind of endearing. I’m a McGovern fan from way back and her accent has definitely shifted from earlier days. 🙂
I adore Maggie Smith. The electric lights thing was indeed hilarious! Ducking, cowering under the protection of a fan…hee!
We watched this from the UK — wonderful! Maggie Smith chews up the scenery. Make sure you catch everything she says. Even the smallest aside is sure to be a deadly bon mot.
Sheila — Cora is played by an American actress that has lived in the UK for about 20 years. Her accent sounds perfectly American to me, but I’ve noticed that many shows in the UK tend to use a reeeaally broad American accent, so you might be used to hearing that.
No spoilers, please! I’ve just started watching too. I love Maggie Smith in anything she does and Brendan Coyle has charmed me since North and South. Did anyone else recognize Cora from John Hughes’ She’s Having a Baby?
Charlotte, yes, my favorite Elizabeth McGovern role!
Cate, to my ear, her accent does have an occasional English vowel and soft R (like in the word ‘sort’). It’s just *off* enough (i.e. not quite plain bland American) to be a bit distracting at times, but I can buy it for the character.
Re Brendan Coyle—I too am extremely fond of him. Not sure I’ve seen him in anything but Lark Rise to Candleford, though. (The new season of which we also have queued up on the DVR & will begin watching soon. Are you caught up on Season 4, Charlotte?) 🙂
You haven’t seen North and South?!? Not the Civil War drama with Patrick Swayze, but the miniseries based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel with Richard Armitage and Sinead Cusack. You have to see that one!!! His character in N&S is similar to Lark Rise so it’s nice to see him in a different role.
@Sheila, can you repost that link? I think my blog ate it.
@Karen, don’t think we’ve had any spoilers so far. Looking forward to your thoughts when you’ve had a chance to watch the show… 🙂
@Charlotte, ooh, a Gaskell novel + Brendan Coyle? You have me at hello.
(I remarked to my hubby that it’s been hard for me to adjust to seeing Coyle in his Downton role—such a contrast from Lark Rise. I mean hard in an aching-for-the-character way. Love him in this role, though; he radiates such a quiet dignity.)
Anybody else having Gosford Park flashbacks from Downton Abbey?
And how knocked over was I when Scott pointed out that Lord Grantham (is that what they call him? he’s an Earl, yes?) is played by the guy who played Hugh Grant’s sweetly clueless friend from Notting Hill, the one who grilled Julia Roberts/Anna as to how much she’d made on her last film? AND he was the similarly clueless Mr. Rushworth in Mansfield Park?? All the times I’ve seen those two films (and it’s been many for both), I’ve never made that connection.
Very much enjoying this series! We are finding it quite hysterical as well as very entertaining. Very much delighting in the “inside” look at the workings of their lives at such a pivital point in history. Terribly interesting indeed.
“And how knocked over was I when Scott pointed out that Lord Grantham (is that what they call him? he’s an Earl, yes?) is played by the guy who played Hugh Grant’s sweetly clueless friend from Notting Hill, the one who grilled Julia Roberts/Anna as to how much she’d made on her last film?”
I’m loving it! That’s so funny…that accent is the only thing that has been bothering me…particularly when she says “Mary.” Then, every once and awhile there’s a little southern twist…the r, I guess. She’s American?! In real life? Wow!
Also, the switch from Lark Rise has been interesting…I keep waiting for a firm talking-to, but his quiet demeanor (yet no less proud) is refreshing!
Oh, Lissa…this is hard not to talk about the second episode. My husband and I are watching them as they are aired (how old-fashioned!). It is fun to anticipate.
Ok…agree about Elizabeth McGovern’s voice, so I am glad to learn that she has been living in Britain for so long and we can assume it is not affected. Because I want to like her-it is refreshing to see an older woman who looks her age and looks lovely. I love to see Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) in anything, he is always so good.
I didn’t know Brendan Coyle by name before, but so like him in LRTC (of which I have seen only the first season. It got me through a dismal period late last winter with its wonderful characters and golden light). And yes, you must see North and South. Some of us are of the opinion that it has one of the best screen kisses ever.
Anyway, there hasn’t been anything so satisfying to watch in quite awhile on Masterpiece, so I am very appreciative. But you must let me know when we can discuss episode two, as I have a bone to pick. And is anyone else really appreciating what the cook says? She also has alot of great one-liners (when she is not scolding Daisy).
So what do you think, Lissa? Do you still love it after Episode 2? I’m sure I’ll watch all the episodes out of sheer curiosity, and I do love some of the individual characters, and the acting is good as one would expect. But, I’m not finding it as compelling as I thought I would.
I’m not sure I really care so much about what happens to the characters. I think part of the problem is Mary. I didn’t really care for her in the first episode, and I’m having trouble feeling any sympathy/empathy for her in this one. It doesn’t bother me in the least (outside of sheer principle) that she’s not inheriting, and since that is a driving plot point, it sort of makes the whole thing a little flat for me.
I think the little side plots with Bates, the butler, Anna, and company are the best tidbits.
Cora’s accent is in fact a period accent, or rather that of the high society. Think Franklin Roosevelt or Katherine Hepburn. It is probably an accurate portrayal of what this woman’s accent would’ve been.
Just finished Season 1 and loved it. Speaking of actors in other pieces, we started watching the Cranford miniseries and who should show up with his unmistakable voice and eyebrows but Carson the butler! He’s terrific, isn’t he?
Melissa, love the show, like your blog, but I kind of resent “i.e. not quite plain bland American” in your post above. Americans have different accents but it doesnt make them bland-just like no British accent is bland!
McGovern’s accent is indeed strange and has a few words that she says that do not sound American at all, like one post said above on certain letters especially. Even in “high society” period pieces the accent was not like the one she uses in Downton. It is not consistent throughout and I think that is what makes it stand out. It sounds a bit southern even at times and she is supposed to be from New York and I think that is what people arent used to.
I agree with “Betsey” above, her accent on certain words is the only thing that bugs me too….
Sorry to annoy, Cat! 🙂 I’m a collector of regional accents and, having grown up in Colorado, find “standard American” (SAE)—the accent I grew up with—to be less interesting than the various regional accents. Newscasters are often trained in SAE in order to be as everyman/generic as possible, reaching the broadest possible audience, and that’s the accent I meant when I said “bland.” In acting and journalism, it’s bland on purpose—at least that’s how my dialects prof explained it back in the day. 🙂
You didn’t annoy Melissa! But thank you for the reply, I understand what you mean. Being bland just has somewhat of a negative connotation and one doesn’t often hear it used in a positive, or even at its best, a neutral, context. 🙂