Who has what accent in Downton Abbey?
April 28, 2013 7:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm late to the Downton Abbey craze, but I just finished watching all the episodes that have been made so far and I love it. What I'm wondering about is what accents the characters have. I know that Ms. Hughes has a different one than Carson, who has a different one than O'Brien, but I can't place any of them. Obviously Tom Branson is Irish -- but are all the rest of the characters English? Are some Scottish? Welsh? Liverpudlian? London-born? Help me sort this all out. Bonus: if you can identify any differences/matches between the accent the character has, in comparison with the accent the actor or actress who plays the character has.
posted by RingerChopChop to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, and I am also aware that Lady Grantham and her mother are American.
posted by RingerChopChop at 7:56 AM on April 28, 2013

Here is a discussion that may be helpful.
posted by dfriedman at 8:08 AM on April 28, 2013

Dialect Blog's take on the accents. Maggie Smith, brilliant as ever, sounds strikingly different than she does as Prof. McGonagall.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:18 AM on April 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Mrs Hughes, Mr Bates and Dr Clarkson are all wielding Scottish accents in DA and all are Scots or of Scottish descent. Bates' / Brendan Coyle's accent is very subtle but coming from the Scottish outpost of Corby in England IRL this might explain it. Maggie Smith still sounds Scottish to me in the program too.
posted by Callicvol at 9:56 AM on April 28, 2013

Those links fill things out pretty well: Downton is ostensibly in North Yorkshire (near Ripon, so you can imagine it being where Fountains Hall is) and the accents of the servants more or less come from Yorkshire and environs, with a few exceptions further up the hierarchy where there's a bit more mobility on display.

Phyllis Logan is Scottish, as is Mrs Hughes, so it's funny to recall her poshing it up as Lady Jane Felsham (with a Scottish housekeeper) in Lovejoy.

Upstairs, the main thing at work is RP, and Dialectblog is right that it's working in an anachronistic range, partly for accessibility to contemporary (esp. American) viewers and to allow Maggie Smith to Lady Bracknell it up: in particular, Michelle Dockery's accent has a lot of Essex in it.
posted by holgate at 10:06 AM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I saw Jim Carter (who plays Carson) on a British game show, and his accent was basically the same, just a bit less formal. His IMDB page says he's from Yorkshire, but to me he has a lot of the "classically trained British Shakespearean actor" resonance/accent, like Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 11:17 AM on April 28, 2013

Cool! Thanks, all! That Lady Jane Felsham clip is fun; makes me want to watch other shows/films starring members of the cast.
posted by RingerChopChop at 3:55 PM on April 28, 2013

Lovejoy was always a hoot, worth a visit even without Lady Felsham (although I'm most grateful to holgate for connecting the dots for me; could never have done it myself!)...
posted by acm at 7:29 AM on April 29, 2013

Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, I've always been struck by Thomas Barrow's accent. It's the same as Rob James-Collier, the actor's, usual accent, pretty strongly Manchester-area working class.
posted by switcheroo at 9:27 AM on April 29, 2013

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