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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Downton's war of the labradors: Show's canine star is hounded out by castle's very unwelcoming rival


War: Lady Carnavon with Percy and Bella at Highclere Castle - her dogs have not got on with Downton Abbey's Roly

Downton Abbey – as its millions of fans know only too well – is a house seething with tension at the best of times.

But now it seems there is another source of rivalry every bit as fierce as the class struggle between the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants.

Lady Carnarvon, the owner of Highclere Castle, where the hit ITV drama is filmed, has revealed her pet labrador Percy was unwilling to tolerate the presence of Roly, the labrador that starred as the Crawleys’ pet, Pharaoh.

Rivals: Roly, pictured here with Hugh Bonneville, has been hounded out by Highclere's resident labradors

At one stage, producers considered dropping Pharaoh’s character from the script altogether. Instead, they decided to give the castle advance warning of Roly’s movements, so the two animals could be kept apart.

Lady Carnarvon said: ‘We have blonde labradors named Percy and Bella, and what’s bizarre is they bring in their own labrador. I haven’t got a clue why they don’t use ours, which are running up and down the stairs anyway.

Be prepared: The cast of Downton Abbey may have to keep a close eye out for labrador disagreements

‘Our male labrador minds the Downton one enormously, so I have to say, “When is your dog in? Don’t turn up unexpectedly,” because he does not like any other male dogs in the castle. He is very territorial.

‘We usually ask for no dogs in the castle actually, because we have five altogether – the others are spaniels we call Naughty 1, Naughty 2, and Naughty 3!’
The website of Highclere Castle makes clear that only guide dogs are normally allowed into the castle.

Gill Raddings, the dog handler who supplied Roly to the period drama, which counts the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge among its fans, said: ‘Even before filming began, there was talk of cutting the dog from the script altogether.

‘It had absolutely nothing to do with Roly.

‘Lady Carnarvon’s dog does not like male dogs in the house and he is apparently a fighter, so we had to give them advance warning when Roly was on the premises.’

The new series of Downton Abbey, which again stars Dame Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and Michelle Dockery, is set in 1916 and follows the fortunes of the household during the latter years of the First World War.

Filming is due to continue for another two weeks.

source: dailymail


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