'Downton Abbey' cast responds to 'water bottle-gate'

"Downton Abbey" cast members respond to "water bottle-gate." (WaterAid)

Begging your pardons, sirs and madams, the cast members of "Downton Abbey" isn't letting that anachronistic water bottle in their Season 5 publicity photo get them down. Instead, they're using it to promote a good cause.

"The cast of #Downton embraced 'water bottle-gate' today. ... #DowntonAbbey #wH2oops," the show said on its official Instagram account Friday with a photo featuring most of the costume drama's large cast wearing plain clothes and mea culpa expressions and each holding up a water bottle. 

The cheeky response comes on the heels of last week's uncropped publicity shot featuring Lord Grantham and his daughter Lady Edith (Hugh Bonneville and Laura Carmichael, respectively) that inadvertently included the plastic vessel on the set's lavish mantel. 

"What is a water bottle?" we could practically hear Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess ask. Which makes total sense because the period piece is set in early-1900s England. Plastic water bottles were first used commercially in 1946 and weren't readily available until the 1960s, according to reusable-bottle maker Nimbus.

The malapropos image had been posted on the series' social media accounts and promptly removed but not before it was picked up online faster than gossip spreads in Mrs. Patmore's kitchen.

"After seeing the reaction the picture caused earlier this week, the cast and crew came up with the idea of turning some of this attention towards an issue around water that really matters," a representative of the show said. "They hope that by posing for this picture they will be able to raise awareness and amplify the work of international charity -- WaterAid."

A link posted with the Instagram photo refers clickers to the website for WaterAid, a British-based charity that works to get clean water to impoverished communities. 

"Every pound and penny WaterAid receives will be matched by the U.K. government," Barbara Frost of WaterAid said in a statement about the "Downton" cast's support for the group's work.

Well, when life gives you a water bottle, use it for philanthropic work.

The show's fifth season debuts stateside on PBS on Jan. 4, 2015.

Do-gooder Isobel Crawley would be most pleased! Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.