Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Screenwriter to take seat in Lords

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes is to take his seat in the House of Lords

The creator of hit ITV period drama Downton Abbey is to take his seat in the House of Lords as a Conservative peer.

Director and Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes was one of 54 new members of the upper House announced by Downing Street in November.

Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, whose title comes from the Dorset village where he lives, will wear the traditional ermine while he swears his allegiance to the Queen in a brief ceremony of introduction.

The 61-year-old, an acclaimed chronicler of the upper classes, achieved a surprise hit last year with the ITV drama based in a stately home.

He had previously gained fame as an actor and won an Oscar in 2002 for writing the screenplay for Robert Altman's film Gosford Park.

While taking the oath, Lord Fellowes is set to be flanked by his supporters, Tory hereditary peer Lord Northbrook and Tory energy and climate change minister Lord Marland.

At the beginning of the ceremony he will process into the Lords following the acting Black Rod, Yeoman Usher Ted Lloyd-Jukes, and the Garter Principal King of Arms, Thomas Woodcock.

A Lords clerk will then read out Lord Fellowes' Letters Patent, a document issued by the Queen granting a new life peerage, before he swears an oath or makes a solemn affirmation and then signs up to the code of conduct for peers.

To cope with the spate of new peers, House of Lords sittings are starting 15 minutes early on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays until the February recess.

Prominent new members due to take their seats in the coming weeks include former Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell and former England women's cricket captain Rachael Heyhoe-Flint.

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