Downton Abbey is a 2019 UK period drama by Michael Engler. Starring Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith and Tuppence Middleton.
Adapted from the hit TV series Downton Abbey that tells the story of the Crawley family, a wealthy owner of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century.
The Downton Abbey movie may seem family-friendly, but gay references have caused a stir for the Irish film censor. The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) revealed that the film was initially given a 12A rating due to several offensive references
to the sexuality of a gay butler, Thomas Barrow. A subplot in which Barrow visits a gay club in York sees the bar raided by police who are verbally abusive towards the gay men, describing them as 'perverts' and 'queers'.
In fact filmmakers had consulted a historical adviser who said that Barrow's experiences are an accurate depiction of gay life in interwar Britain. The plot was also praised by LGBT+ activists.
So the movie's distributor Universal were no doubt confident in appealing IFCO's decision, seeking a PG rating. The appeal was duly won and the film has now been re-rated to PG for brief homophobic reference.
The appeals board felt an audience familiar with its characters and setting would have been aware of the storyline about a gay character, so they changed the rating to a PG.
Ger Connolly, the director of IFCO, told The Times that the 12A classification had been a margin call. He said:
My decision came down to the use of words like 'pervert' in the context of a character's sexuality. For me, that moved it into the 12A rating.
Connolly was clearly a lone voice in deciding on a 12A rating and received no support in the UK where the film was always rated PG uncut by the BBFC for mild threat, language.