Downton Abbey Creator Julian Fellowes ‘Nuisance’ – Essential Tremor

With the release of the second Downton Abbey film in March 2022, fans of the period drama are eagerly awaiting to see what awaits the Crawley family. When creating the series, which first aired on ITV in 2010, Fellowes was inspired to give Downton’s character and Butler Carson an essential tremor, something the writer suffers from on his own. , but which he rarely speaks in public.

The Mayo Clinic explains that an essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic tremors.

It can affect almost any part of your body, but tremors are most common in people’s hands.

Often not classified as a dangerous condition, it can worsen over time and prevent you from doing tasks like drinking from a glass, filling up fluids, or tying shoelaces.

Speaking about his own experience with an essential tremor on the Lorraine talk show, Fellowes, 72, said he was initially in denial when he was first diagnosed.

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He said, “First of all, I was in total denial. “Oh, I must not have slept enough last night, too much coffee…” then I went to a specialist. He said to me with satisfaction: “No, it’s what you have, it’s incurable, you will probably never get rid of it”, which I prefer by far, so you know what you are dealing with.

“But then, no one ever mentioned it. I thought no one had noticed it.

Showing his hands to Scottish host Lorraine Kelly, he went on to say, “Finally my wife Emma said, ‘You have to say at the start because everyone is looking at you thinking they’re drunk or terrified. Whereas if you say from the start that you have this tremor, then they don’t care anymore. Now that I’m doing this, I don’t confuse silence with not realizing it.

According to the National Tremor Foundation, four percent of people over 40 are affected by essential tremors, the common condition of running in families.


Fellowes’ father also suffered a tremor when he was 80 years old, much more so than when Fellowes started noticing his own symptoms when he was around 66 years old.

“It gets better and worse, worse in the morning… in fact it’s better when you’ve been drinking, which is an interesting detail. It doesn’t kill you. It does not hurt. It’s a nuisance, ”the star continued.

” It’s tiring. But there are a lot of worse things in the world that people have to put up with.

“That’s why on Downton in the last episode… we gave Carson an essential shake, so he couldn’t pour the wine.”

The star also added that whenever he gets nervous or angry, the tremors get worse, a symptom that is often mistaken for Parkinson’s disease – a brain disease that affects movement.

Because of the similarities in symptoms, John Hopkins Medicine stresses the importance of receiving a correct diagnosis.

In addition to noticing the tremors, other essential signs and symptoms of a tremor to look out for are:

  • Difficulty performing tasks with your hands, such as writing or using tools
  • A shaking or trembling sound in your voice
  • Uncontrollable nods
  • Tremors worse by emotional stress, fatigue, caffeine, or temperature extremes
  • In rare cases, tremors in the legs or feet.

Often essential tremors do not require treatment, especially if symptoms are mild. However, treatment options can be discussed if the condition makes it difficult for the individual to perform daily activities.

Brain surgery and laser options are some of the more recent options in medical advancement to try and tackle an essential tremor, but medication is also an option. To Fellowes, an invasive treatment like brain surgery seemed like a daunting prospect, a prospect he was unwilling to try.

“[The specialist] said they had never operated on anyone in the creative arts and didn’t know how it would affect them, so I thought I would give a little more time, ”Fellowes told The Mirror .

Instead, Julian was prescribed propranolol, a beta blocker normally used to treat high blood pressure. “I used to eat it like cornflakes, but found that it didn’t really work for me – it only works for about half of people with tremors,” he says. “It’s not a tragic handicap, so I learned to take it.”

The Mayo Clinic also recommends lifestyle changes and home remedies that individuals can try to help relieve tremors. These include:

  • Avoid caffeine
  • Drink alcohol sparingly
  • Learn relaxation techniques.

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