Downton Abbey Sparks Real-Life Resurgence of Butlers


Life imitates art, and that certainly seems to be the case for the .001 percent richest portion of the population who are avid Downton Abbey fans. According to a new piece in GQ, the show has helped spark a resurgence in the hiring of a butler to serve as a status symbol. In the article it says that 35 years ago there were barely a hundred butlers still employed in the UK. Now? There are over 10,000, with many more outside of the country.

“When you’re talking about hiring a proper British butler — the guy in the uniform who obeys a certain protocol of service — what you’re hiring is essentially a status symbol,” the author says. In China, he says, “they want an Anglo person that telegraphs to their other equally wealthy friends that they can afford to do this.”

They interviewed current-day butlers about some of the challenges of the scene, and the attitude very much does imitate that found in Downton Abbey, where the help is portrayed as being overjoyed to serve, most of the time.

“My bigger problem was I had a very hard time keeping my ego in check. You know, you cannot resent the people that you are serving,” the butler says. “You have to believe in service as something beautiful in itself, and you hear them often say, ‘We serve but we’re never servile.’ They really believe in what they do.”

So, anyone up for being a rich Chinese guy’s white butler? It’s the career of the future, it seems.

[Photo via PBS]

Paul Tassi In addition to writing for TVOvermind, Paul has contributed to major publications such as Forbes. He's a video game expert as well as TV and Movie guy.
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