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Downton Abbey inspires China butler boom

Downton Abbey has inspired a butler boom in China where many of the country’s rich now consider having their own butler as the ultimate status symbol.

Butler training academies and agencies have been operating here for over a decade but it wasn't until the ITV drama series made it's way into Chinese households that they really took off.

At the school we visited in Beijing they said their numbers for this year have doubled as the trend spreads among the country's growing number of millionaires and billionaires. Instead of training a few hundred a year they are now seeing thousands come through their doors.

The butler is said to have been inspired by the popularity of Downton Abbey in the country. Credit: ITV

Richard Guo from the UK Butler Guild Service said: "China’s upper classes are more willing to embrace a western lifestyle. They want their properties managed to perfection. So they are very attracted to British butlers’ service and the aristocrat culture they represent."

During the minimum six-week training course aspiring Carson's are given lessons on everything from dinner service, to packing luggage, to opening car doors. During a class on serving High Tea, students are told to place the cup down with the handle at a 45 degree angle.

Many students watch and re-watch episodes of Downton Abbey for tips on how to perform their duties.

More butler training academies and agencies have opened in China post Downton. Credit: ITV News

Twenty year old Xu Jianyue said: "I am very happy when the guest smiles. I like serving people. It makes me feel confident."

While 18-year-old Yue Yong told us he had decided to train because it was a good way to make a living: "I like to clean everything so I chose to be a British butler."

The school we filmed at has plans to open in each major Chinese city where there is a growing number of wealthy families. Having a butler to greet guests, pour the wine and serve dinner has become a sign of good taste.

This profession that we might think of as a consigned to the past, looks to have a bright future in China's newly affluent homes.