Doris Day Sneaked Into “Downton”

Has she emerged from retirement to cameo on the show’s new season? No, no, nothing like that. In last week’s episode (need I keep reminding you the series has begun its last season, and is grabbable online?), some fans complained that the Dowager Countess, played by Maggie Smith, used the phrase “que sera sera,” one not made popular until Doris Day released a single of the same name in the 1950s. But at least one scholar, in this article, said that while “que sera sera” was popularized in the 1950s, it entered the English language in the 15th century, and was used in plays by Chris­topher Marlowe in the 16th century. The article also points out that the current Queen loves “Downton” and also loves spotting anachronisms in it. Brian Hoey, the author of “At Home With The Queen,” said the queen is very good at this “because she is familiar with Highclere Castle, where [the program] is filmed. She used to stay there as a guest of the Carnarvon family.” One of the queen’s favorite gotchas had to do with a china pattern used at a “Downton” dinner. She said it was a pattern that wasn’t available until mid-20th century, and the show takes place in the 1920s and (now) 1930s. And how did she know? “One received some among one’s wedding presents. It was brand-new then.” As a flunkey observed of the Queen in “A Question of Attribution,” “She seems quite on the ball…The furniture. The silver. The pictures. I thought it was all horses.” Nope.

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