Tea Time Tidbits
Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern's other "gig"
Week of December 29, 2014

Just a few more days and Downton Abbey will be back on our screens! Season 5 kicks off next Sunday, January 4th at 9pm.

Elizabeth McGovern
Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Grantham.
© Joss Barratt/Carnival Films

Elizabeth McGovern, who appears as Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham, recently traded in her tiara and pearls for an acoustic guitar, when she embarked on a 10 day tour of the U.S. with her folk-rock band Sadie and the Hotheads. The tour kicked off in Washington DC, on December 4, and wrapped up in Hartford, Connecticut December 14th, leaving McGovern plenty of time to get back to England for the holidays.

The 53 year old actress formed the band in 2007, although it wasn’t her original intention. All she’d been looking for to start with was someone to help her learn how to play guitar. It came at a time, when she was raising her young children and not acting very much. After responding to an ad, McGovern found an instructor, Steve Nelson, who before long was also helping her write songs, too. Before she knew it, McGovern, Nelson and his brother and guitar playing partner, Simon, along with some other "chums", had formed a band.

Elizabeth McGovern
McGovern as lead singer of Sadie and the Hotheads.
© Alan Davidson

Sadie and the Hotheads received good reviews for their first album, I CAN WAIT, but then along came Downton and its success meant that McGovern didn’t have as much time on her hands as she’d had earlier. It took five years before the release of the band’s second album: HOW NOT TO LOSE THINGS. On that album, McGovern was joined by a guest vocalist, Michelle Dockery, who plays her eldest daughter Mary in Downton.

For the last couple of years, the Oscar and Emmy nominated actress has managed to combine her television role with fronting the band on numerous tours around the U.K. and Europe. They’ve appeared twice at the Isle of Wight Festival, several times at the Edinburgh FRINGE festival and were the opening act for Sting at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

The band’s third album, STILL WAITING, was released earlier this year and this past summer McGovern and the band toured with Mike and the Mechanics. Appearing in those concerts was a bit of challenge, as McGovern was also filming season 5 of Downton. Sometimes she’d have to dash from the Downton set directly to the concert stage and take on the role as lead singer for Sadie and the Hotheads - a world away from that of Lady Grantham in Downton.

Elizabeth McGovern
Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern with
George Clooney in a spoof on the show for the U.K.'s
Text Santa television fundraiser event. (View below.)

"It's a slightly funny experience for fans of the show to come hear the music because it's such a different world to the show itself," McGovern said recently. "When we first started touring there would be a lot of people carrying `Downtown Abbey' books...and I could see a look of surprise on their faces because it isn't what you expect. I mean it's not a classical quartet of violins."

To re-live some treasured moments from the first four seasons of Downton Abbey tune in at 7:30pm on Sunday for Downton Abbey Rediscovered, which will be immediately followed at 9pm by episode one of season five of Downton Abbey.

If you've got a favorite actor you'd like to know more about let me know, drop me a line.

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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