The Downton Abbey cast are doing the media rounds ahead of the Series 5 premiere, which will kick off in the U.K. at 9 p.m. on Sunday, September 21. Here’s the latest.
Warning: Mild Spoilers
Laura Carmichael chatted with RadioTimes about Lady Edith’s story this season:
It did feel different this year. It was quite hard going, just because of the nature of it. It’s very secretive and it’s far more serious a story line than I’ve played before but still just having a dreamy time shooting it. [It’s] a great juicy storyline to get into – it’s been a real treat.
[It’s a] kind of tragic scenario of being close and yet far from her daughter and living with that secret. Living with the pain of that whilst not being able to confide in anyone else – and Mr Drew, the unlikely confidant, the farmer down the road, being the only one who really knows how painful it is for her. He could at any point expose them and ruin them and bring shame on them and yet doesn’t because he has this loyalty to this family. It’s an interesting year.
On whether things will get easier for her
There are ups and there are downs. Let’s be vague because it’s hard not to give it all away! It intensifies… the context of things changes. You’ve got Rosamund and Violet who know about the child but don’t know she’s here, I think you probably will have picked up [by] the end of episode one that the servants aren’t blind. There are so many dangers of living in a house like this and having a secret like this.
Mary has no idea what Edith is going through so from her point of view she is dealing with the fact that she’s a widow, coming to terms with it and moving on – and Edith is still moping about the house because her boyfriend went missing. It leads to some more rows between them, some more bitchy comments. But [Mary] never really realises how insensitive she’s being.
Is romance on the cards for the mother-in-laws, the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley and Isobel Crawley this season? Penelope Wilton, who plays Isobel, told RT:
The Dowager has a romance that comes back into her life who we will see more of…
There’s a bit of romance coming up for Isobel and not everyone’s that keen. I’d like to say people are envious and so that is a very interesting storyline, but there’s also a lot more going on as well.
And they will still keep us entertained with their bickering.
The sparring is great to do. It’s great because Julian writes very wittily for us both which is lovely and the relationship has grown as they’ve become more dependant on one another… they basically are extremely fond of one another and actually they need each other too.”
The only thing we don’t like – Maggie and I – is we seem to get the same bit of fruitcake every time we have tea together. We asked for a change the other day and they said, ‘Well, this is what you would have had at the time…
At least the fruitcake sounds safe. Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs Patmore, told RT about the disgusting fare that is used for filming. Downton guest are actually sitting down to refrozen dinners and smelly lobster.
“It’s not always food you want to eat…Some of those dishes they make for upstairs we’re often just putting them on a tray and off they go. Three weeks later they arrive up in Highclere!”
“A lot of the stuff reappears. Goes in a freezer and comes out,” said Sophie McShera, who plays kitchen maid Daisy.
“Lobster, for one of them,” said Lesley.
“Yeah and that bit of Salmon always comes out,” laughed Sophie.
“They refreeze it,” added Lesley. “The lobster was already beginning to smell when they froze it and it came out again!”
“It looks marvellous but we don’t get food envy!”
Michelle Dockery chatted with RT about what’s in store for Lady Mary this season:
On brighter horizons:
It’s very different this year because last year she was coming through the grief and the majority of the time was dressed in black so this year it’s been very different because she’s really embracing her new life.
She’s got her humour back and now that she’s through the grieving period it’s nice to have her back again. I see it like a new start for her and she’s just biding her time when it comes to romance and just seeing what happens.
On her suitors:
She is getting to a point where she’s just being a little bit more decisive between the two of them… [There’s a scene in episode one where] she says to Anna, ‘Why can’t I have a relationship with a man before I decide he’s the one I want to settle down with?’ It feels like such a modern thing for a woman to be saying at that time. That’s why I love playing her – she’s very complex, very modern.
Everyone loved Matthew and I think it’s important she doesn’t move on too quickly. She wants it to be the right decision which is what she says to Gillingham. She doesn’t want to make the wrong choice.
On baby George:
They’re a bit older now so we’re working with them a little bit more. There are more scenes with them. They’re gorgeous, the twin boys – they’re actually two of triplets, there’s a girl, too, but of course she can’t play George. It’s a very different feeling when they’re there… It’s a whole different dynamic with the children because a lot of it depends on how they’re feeling and everyone’s very sensitive around that.
On how Mary would react to Edith’s secret child:
I think that actually Edith’s situation she would take great sympathy with. She may not show it but she has a child herself so to know that her sister has been through the same, I’m sure that she would find sympathy for her. Me and Laura [Carmichael] love playing that meanness between each other. It’s more fun for us than when they’re ever being nice to each other which is rare. They’re always really great scenes to play.
Whay mischief will Richard E. Grant’s Simon Bricker be causing? “When a good-looking man like Richard E. Grant turns up claiming to be an art historian, you need to lock up your etchings!” joked Hugh Bonneville at the Downton Abbey series five press launch.
The series will open with the celebration of Robert and Cora’s wedding anniversary.
There’s been a tease of it in episode one that Robert and Cora have been married 34 years and there’s a slight sense of stasis, taking each other for granted…
Certainly, Robert is set in his ways and stuck in a rut so when the twinkly-eyed art historian comes, it’s not the paintings he’s interested in.
Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora, told RT:
All the characters are coping with a changing world in different ways and, because of Cora’s nature, she finds change a little bit more easy to embrace than Robert does which places a wedge between them.
They’re so different as people and I think that tests their marriage, but they’ve also got a great love and long history together…
There are aspects to her personality that haven’t really been explored and Richard E. Grant’s character is an art historian and that seems to be something that Cora has really got a personal passion for.
What else is in store for Robert his season? Hugh told BBC:
Robert is scared. I think there was a very real concern that, having had a Liberal alliance that was threatening the structure of society, a Labour government was definitely going to do that – so he’s really quite scared.
Those concerns are characterised by the intrusion of Sarah Bunting, the schoolteacher who’s befriended Tom Branson. Under normal circumstances, he would be very happy to have a healthy debate with her about the political arena but the fact is she’s just a cow.
So that provides a lot of entertainment – them being at loggerheads.
What’s going on downstairs? Anna and Bates storyline from the previous season, her rape and the death of her attacker at the hands of Bates will be explored.
“It wouldn’t make any sense if what happened in series four was brushed over and everything was fine,” Joanne Froggatt told BBC. “It’s not going to be fine for a long, long time, if ever. There’s going to be a lot of issues for them along the way – physically, emotionally, all of those things you might expect.”
Meanwhile Thomas Barrow gets a surprisingly sympathetic plotline as he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality.
“He never apologised for being gay,” Robert James-Collier told BBC, “but in this series something happens and for the first time Thomas questions: ‘should I be gay?’
“He then goes on a path, which is quite an unhealthy path, to try and change who he is. It’s quite an emotional and quite a powerful storyline, I hope. He’s alone and he doesn’t want to be alone any more. The only way is to change who he is, and he can’t do that. It’s heartbreaking.”
Among the new and returning guest stars this season are Anna Chancellor playing the Dowager Lady Anstruther, Jimmy’s former employer. Rade Sherbedgia will play the role of Kuragin, Russian refugee who has fled to England. Former Coronation Street star Sue Johnston will be playing Denker, lady’s maid to Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess Grantham. Reprising their roles this season will be Dame Harriet Walter as Lady Shackleton and Peter Egan as Lord Flintshire.
Here’s the rest of the promo pictures for Series 5.