Viewers of ITV’s hit drama Downton Abbey watched closely last night to find out the fate of one of the show’s most popular characters. The popular blonde was allowed to wander in and out of patients’ rooms when the Abbey was a convalescent home during the first world war, regardless of hygiene concerns, and the Estate Manager Tom was instructed to look after her ‘especially’ when Lord Grantham took a trip to America.
She is, of course, Lord Grantham’s dog Isis.
The internet was alive with rumours following the yellow Labrador looking particularly under the weather last week, with The Countess of Grantham saying:
“She’s terribly listless. I don’t know that she hasn’t picked up a germ.”
And despite hopes that perhaps the ageing hound was pregnant (“She is looking rather fat”, said Lady Mary rather unkindly) viewers learned last night that Lord Grantham’s best friend was dying of cancer.
In tear jerking scenes, we saw the Earl telling his wife he would sleep in his dressing room – normally Downton code for marital disharmony – so his beloved pooch could spend her final few hours in his arms. But the Countess, showing signs of becoming more English with every day that passes, insisted that Isis stay the night with the both of them.
But what fans wanted to know was, why was Isis being killed off?
Earlier in the series, the Independent reported that audiences had noticed the “awkward connection” between the dog’s name and the terrorist group Islamic State. Viewers took to Twitter to suggest that her name be changed (an unrealistic prospect for script writers who would have to had come up with a reason for changing the name of a dog because of a terrorist group active 100 years after the drama is set) with comments such as “Bet they’re sorry they called the dog ISIS” and “When do you think the #Downton writers are going to notice that Lord Grantham’s dog is called ISIS?”
But despite conspiracy theories abounding, it seems that the demise of Isis was always on the cards; with series five set in 1924 she would have reached the average life expectancy for a Labrador of about ten years old.
In a statement to Breitbart London a spokesperson for the programme said, “Storyline’s for Downton Abbey Series 5 were written last year and filmed earlier this year,” crucially before the name was a well known acronym for the terror group.
They added, “Isis has been the Crawley’s family pet since Series 2 (2011) and was named after the Egyptian Goddess. Series 1 saw the family pet, Pharaoh with the same themed name. At the time the dog was named and up to and including the majority of filming of Series 5, no-one was using that acronym to describe a terror group. It is an unfortunate coincidence.”
They said they were unaware of any formal complaints being made to ITV over the name of the dog.
Both dogs in the popular series were given Egyptian themed names in a nod to the fifth Earl of Carmarthen whose family owns Highclere Castle where the series is based.
The Earl financed the expedition which led to the excavation of Tutankamun’s tomb in the 1920s.