Even though Downton Abbey has seen several major character deaths in its first five seasons — the sixth and final one begins airing in the U.S. on Jan. 3 — it was still shocking to viewers last season when Lord Grantham’s beloved dog, Isis, passed away.
It was controversial too: some viewers wondered whether the dog had fallen prey to its unfortunate name, though show creator Julian Fellowes told TIME that the dog’s in-show death and the rise of the real-world ISIS were completely unrelated.
Though it’s been no secret over the years that Isis’ name was inspired by the Egyptian theme set by Season 1 dog Pharaoh, Hugh Bonneville recently shared how he himself came up with the dog’s name. Chatting with TIME about the show’s final season and real-life 1920s slang, the Lord Grantham actor explained that, though Pharaoh would be forever preserved in the show’s opening credits, the dog who played him didn’t get along with another set of dogs who took precedence on set:
Switching to a female dog solved the problem with the Labradors at Highclere, and it solved another problem too: the first dog was, Bonneville said, “the most morose Labrador I’ve ever met,” and added little to his scenes. The dog who played Isis, on the other hand, was “really good fun” — even though the actor said he now regrets having chosen that particular Egyptian name.
“So that’s how Isis was born,” he joked, “but it’s still Pharaoh’s ass that my name comes after.”
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