Some people make it their business to check for mistakes on television shows and in the movies, and some people make it their business to ensure that everything on television is as historically accurate as possible. For example, Downton Abbey is a bit of a period piece, and though it’s not ‘real’ the people on set want it to be as real as possible for the era. Perhaps by now you’ve noticed the characters on the show very rarely touch. It’s not because the producers are trying to keep the show appropriate for all ages; it’s because of germs.
Alistair Bruce is the historical expert on the show, and he says that during this time in the real world people simply did not touch one another the way that they do now because germs were a big concern. Think of it this way; see how much people are panicking about Ebola? Well, they were much more concerned with disease back then since they didn’t have proper medical equipment and disease was spread much more rampantly.
“I tell the actors not to touch each other. I don’t want any hugging, no physical contact; they just didn’t do that in those days. The reason they didn’t is because it wasn’t that long before then that disease was spread so much more easily,” says Bruce. “It is important getting the detail right and the pressure does increase. People long to find error,” he says of fans of the show. His job is to make sure that the show does not make any errors in keeping with the era. He’s there to ensure the speech, costumes and mannerisms of the actors are all historically correct, and we think he does a pretty good job. Of course, we know very little about the era other than it’s in the past, so who are we to judge?
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