Congratulations to Alison (agboss) who won Susanne Dietze's The Reluctant Guardian!

Congratulations to Elise Jehan who won a copy of The Secret Admirer Romance Collection!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lunch with Alastair Bruce of Downton Abbey

Just another day of Schmoozing
One of my local PBS stations (I am between two cities) recently hosted a fancy luncheon with Alistair Bruce as keynote speaker. He is the history adviser (or is that ‘historical adviser?) on Downton Abbey, among many other things, and my children bought me a ticket for this event and a VIP reception prior to the lunch, as a birthday present.

So there went I– off to socialize in the big city!

Alastair Bruce (who has five names and the title of OBE -- The Order of the British Empire) is also a commentator for Sky News (think of a UK version of CNN or FOX?) specifically on stories regarding the Royals, the Constitution and Religion. He’s also been a guest commentator in the US on FOX and ABC to provide insight on the political and historical significance of things such as state funerals, royalty and politics.  It is clear he is fascinated with British History, and has made a living out of understanding it.  He has written three books, and been an adviser on multiple TV shows and movies such as The King’s Speech, The Young Victoria, and most famously, Downton Abbey. He is also in the reserves, serves in uniform dress during any royal occasions, (you'll see a photo of him below in a red uniform) and was in active duty during the Iran War.

The VIP reception was full of people (I could call them Poshs) who had traveled in a station-sponsored Downton Abbey group tour this past summer, and met Alistair in England where he spent parts of two days hosting them. And then there was me.  Well, the elegant little food trays were quite spectacular.  I was able to have a photo taken, upon pressure by the station manager (who mistook me for a VIP?) and it’s a good thing as it gave me something for my post! Small talk is not my forte'!
Mr. Alistair Bruce and the reclusive writer Debra E. Marvin
 This luncheon took place on a frigid day before our expected Thanksgiving snow storm. The amazing thing was that Alastair Bruce flew up from Florida (at the end of a cruise) just for this luncheon and was flying back to Europe that evening.
After lunch, we were treated to a preview of Season 4, and a very entertaining and informative talk peppered with a lot of behind the scenes photos. And even more funny stories about cast members.
Mr. Bruce in the distance and on one of the two large screens in a room holding 41 tables of 8.
I know that some criticism of Downton Abbey has been in the historical accuracy of the story, so I was curious if this would be addressed. Clearly, Alistair is a terrier with details but reminds us that it’s also entertainment. He occasionally gets overruled for drama's sake. Often this is in the more relaxed language of the day—the concern was that using the very upper crust language and pronunciations would make it difficult for some to understand and might be off-putting for others.

It was fascinating to hear all the tiny details he watches for and harps on that I think we may never understand.  He also reminds the actors what frame of mind the characters would have been in given the events of the year and their station.

I don’t have any spoilers for you, sorry, at least none I can recall. Alastair has had a non-speaking part in each season and this year will be the first time he has a line of dialogue (one in the entire season!).  He is cousin to Writer/Producer Julian Fellowes’ wife (connections help) and also good friends with the owners of that amazing Scottish Manor used at the end of Season 3 (he is of Scottish ancestry).

It was a very enjoyable day and a special treat. Alastair Bruce is a great advocate for the show,
enthusiastic about the history behind it and seems to be having the time of his life.
A week or so after the luncheon, Masterpiece released this video about him and I think it’s a perfect example of what we enjoyed at our special luncheon.

Pardon the quality of the photos!

***Coming up in a few weeks is my chance to see the first episode of Season Four in a local theater. This will be my second year. Again, sponsored by the local PBS affiliate, this is a chance for the devoted among us to see Mary's expressive brows, and Tom's blue eyes shed tears on the big screen. I will be thrilled to see Mrs. Hughes in her 1920 hairstyle and hear baby George cry in surround sound.

What are you most looking forward to in Season Four?
Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. Debra likes to write, weed and wander and is blessed to have the best family and friends in the world. She has decided she needs to live closer to her grandchildren. She’s thankful each day that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of  humor. Her work has finaled in the TARA, Great Expectations, Heart of the Rockies, Maggie, Fab Five, Daphne DuMaurier and the overall winner in the CWOW Rattler. Debra writes historical romance and has a difficult time coming back to the present day, so don't shout. You might startle her.


  1. Thanks again to my offspring! it was a lot of fun.

  2. Oooh, how fun! I watched Season One and enjoyed it very much, but then I got busy and haven't seen it since.

    I suppose I'll try to make it part of my great catching up once I get Christmas taken care of. :D

    Thanks for sharing your special day with us!

    1. aha! yes, you need to catch up on two seasons... think you can do it before Jan 5th?

      I think we caught Niki in the net finally. I've been hooked since before Robert opened that newspaper and showed us the Titanic!

  3. Yes, I'm snared. Watched all three seasons while recuperating from my surgery in August, bawled my eyes out, and am now waiting impatiently for season 4! What do I most want to see? No idea.

    1. I have now joined those who are okay with seeing Matthew gone. Sorry Susie. I think there was little that could go forward with them at this point without it being more of the same. grumpy Mary, Whiny Matthew. I'm not sure he was ever a match for her. He made her a better person, perhaps, but I think she needs someone who can put her in her place at times (boy that sounds very sexist). Looking forward to some fireworks with some new suitors on board.

  4. Niki! You fell into the trap! Well, you're in good company.

  5. I have been waiting for this post. I am glad it was such a fun and fabulous time! And look at the pic of the two of you! He's touching you, Deb! squee!

    What a fun event.

    I can't wait to see Baby George. 1) I like babies. 2) It's the heir of Downton! I confess I still harbor a bit of resentment toward a certain actor for leaving the show (as if he has the right to make decisions about his own life and not consult with me, who grieves his character. Hmph!). But I do so like Tom and his love for Baby Sybill. Unfortunately, I heard a spoiler that did not please me, but I have done pretty well keeping away from the news from across the pond.

    1. Well,here's the funny part. When we posed for the photo, he asked, 'may I touch you?'. yes, he said it to all the ladies and I guess it's pure British chivalry (not that we think it's common) but I had to silently laugh to myself later. He's very animated and extroverted but also well-versed in proper behavior as he knows it.

      As for Tom Branson... yes, I saw a minor spoiler that made me grit my teeth and so I'll leave it at that. Looking forward to seeing how Tom and Mary bring on the new Downton of the 20th C.
      Some people want a Carson=Hughes romance but that's just wrong IMO. out of character but of course who am I to say?