Downton Abbey takes China by storm
We’ve long known that the drama has been a huge hit in the UK and across the pond in the United States but it now seems that, possibly spurred on by their increasing economic dominance and the opening up of their society to increased western influence, the Chinese are lapping up Downton Abbey which follows the fortunes of the Earl of Grantham and his extensive family.
Of course China hasn’t been a communist state forever and it’s no surprise that the educated classes in that country would be interested in following a television drama which is centred on extreme wealth, entitlement and gentlemanly behaviour. It must resonate with a country whose culture, pre the Cultural Revolution, was as class dominated as our own.
It looks like the embracing of Downton is as much a status symbol in China as the owning of a top-of-the-range luxury car and the possession of other western luxuries. On a recent visit to Harrods I was amazed to see that nearly all the customers for designer goods such as handbags, watches and jewellery were Chinese. Apparently, if you want to appear on your uppers in China its best to show that you watch British television drama, and Downton is regarded as the top offering with thousands of young Chinese mobbing a recent British Film Institute event in Shanghai, particularly when they were shown an image of Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess of Grantham.
And, it’s not just British television that appears to be a badge of class in the Orient. Top British universities and schools are full of Chinese students, the British Royal family are absolutely adored in Shanghai and Beijing, whisky club membership is growing exponentially and Polo is as fast a growing sport among the Chinese middle-classes as you will find.
With the fourth season of Downton Abbey now hotly anticipated here in the US and in China the drama must rate as probably the most watched TV programme in the world.
This should be good news for P and P Tours with our three separate Downton Abbey tours – the one day Downton Abbey Tour, the Gems of Downton Tour and the Scotland Downton Abbey Tour.
Of course, as a provider of private and bespoke guided tours I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upsurge of Chinese clients for both regular and private tours. I’d better brush up on my Mandarin.