The Gilded Age: Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes’ new series set for January debut on Sky

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 (HBO / Sky Atlantic)
(HBO / Sky Atlantic)

What do you get if you cross the novels of Edith Wharton with Downton Abbey? The answer, surely, is The Gilded Age, the new series from Downton creator Julian Fellowes.

Taking its name from the period of rapid industrialisation and growth that created a new American upper class, most famously chronicled by the likes of Wharton and her friend Henry James, Fellowes’ latest lavish period piece is set in 1880s New York, where heroine Marian (Louisa Jacobson, aka Meryl Streep’s youngest daughter) arrives after the death of her father.

She’s taken in by her wealthy aunts, played, in a double-whammy of casting genius, by Mamma Mia! alumn Christine Baranski and Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon, who can surely be relied upon to dish out Dowager Countess-levels of snark.

After befriending aspiring author Peggy (Denée Benton), she becomes accidentally embroiled in a battle between her old money relatives and her nouveau riche neighbours, a railroad tycoon and his wife, played by Morgan Spector and Carrie Coon. Questions of class, uppity relatives and fancy costumes - so far, classic Fellowes, then.

Fellowes, centre, with Carrie Coon and Morgan Spector (Sky Atlantic)
Fellowes, centre, with Carrie Coon and Morgan Spector (Sky Atlantic)

The nine-part series will debut on Sky Atlantic and streaming platform Now on January 25 in the UK, and will air on HBO in the United States.

Fellowes has written and exec-produced the show, which also sees him reunite with executive producer Gareth Neame and director Michael Engler, who previously worked with him on Downton.

Given its time frame, could there be the possibility of a cameo from a younger version of Downton icon Violet Crawley, as made famous by Maggie Smith, before she became the Dowager Countess? We can only cross our expensively-gloved fingers.

The Gilded Age will be available on Sky Atlantic and Now from January 25.

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