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The Only Way is Downton
DOWNTON Abbey is one of the most popular programmes on television at the moment.
People across the country are fascinated by the goings on of the Crawley family and their servants in the award-winning ITV costume drama.
Nearly as popular - but with a markedly different crowd - is The Only Way is Essex.
There would seem to be little to link the two, but one Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival performer has managed just that.
Actor Luke Kempner was last seen on the Salisbury Playhouse stage playing Prince Charming in Cinderella in pantomime a few years back - but he’s always loved making people laugh with his talent for impressions.
And in The Only Way is Downton he takes on the task of portraying the cast of the show transported to modern times as they try to find a way to save their stately home from being sold.
“It’s about 99 per cent Downton and one per cent The Only Way is Essex,” he says. “I can’t say more than that because I don’t want to reveal the end.”
And for those who have never seen the show, there’s still plenty to entertain, with references to television programmes ranging from The Great British Bake-Off to Pointless to X Factor, and even a bit of Andy Murray at Wimbledon thrown in.
Kempner, 26, trained at drama school in Guildford and has a background in musical theatre, but he has been doing impressions since school - although when he was 12, he says he wanted to be a football commentator.
He introduced people to his take on Downton Abbey via YouTube in 2012.
“YouTube is a great way of trying stuff out,” he explains. “It’s amazing in this day and age how you can get yourself out there.”
It proved to be a hit and the link was retweeted by the likes of comedian Matt Lucas and the Twitter king himself, Stephen Fry.
“He has millions of followers,” says Kempner, “so that’s a big help!”
His video got more than 100,000 views and he was approached by a producer to make it into a stage show.
The Only Way is Downton sees a clash of celebrities as they appear at the abbey to help the occupants save it from financial ruin.
Fresh from a West End season, the show comes to Salisbury as part of its first national tour.
* The Only Way is Downton is at Salisbury Playhouse on Sunday at 7.30pm.