The drama is noticeable for its obsessive attention to detail. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and the production team had a long debate about whether aristocrats of the period – the second series takes us from 1916 to 1918 and the Christmas special takes place on New Year’s Eve 1919 –would eat asparagus with their hands or a fork. In the end producers cut the asparagus up and pretended they were green beans, which they knew were eaten with a fork, so keen were they not to put a foot wrong. Five days of the 23-week shoot was done in replica Western Front trenches. “Because the show is so popular, we’ve a special role in teaching, particularly young people, about the war,” said Neame. “ITV wanted more of the same [as the first series]. But because this is wartime, we had a duty to show the social impact of war.”

According to Kottke, the second series will not air in the United States until January 2012. On the upside, the third series is already being written.