Downton Abbey: 60% of the show’s cast began their career in soaps! Here’s a look at the show’s soapy Who’s Who

by Lynn Connolly

Fans of Downton Abbey have most likely spotted a number of familiar faces amongst the cast, and in today’s Mirror, the paper reveals that some 60% of Downton’s cast began their careers in UK soaps!

For example, Siobhan Finneran, who plays acerbic lady’s maid O’Brien got her TV break on Coronation Street in the role of factory worker Josie Phillips.

That was back in 1989, when Mike Baldwin was cock of the walk at the factory, but after her stint on Corrie, and its spin-off show Romanian Holiday Siobhan also landed roles in Casualty and Emmerdale. More recently, she has of course starred as Janice in sitcom, Benidorm.

Her Downton co-star Rob James Collier – who plays the role of gay servant Thomas Barrow – also starred in Corrie as doomed Liam Connor, who was of course killed when evil Tony Gordon had him bumped off in 2008…

Another Corrie alum is Joanne Froggatt who plays the role of Anna Bates in Downton. In the Street, she played single mum Zoe Tattersall, whose major storyline was that childless couple Judy and Gary Mallett bought her baby from her when they couldn’t conceive a child of their own.

However, it all went Pete Tong – and after she took the baby girl back from Gary and Judy, the infant died – and Zoe ended up becoming embroiled with a religious cult and moving to America.

Amy Nuttall – who portrays shamed servant Ethel Parks in Downton – began her TV career in earnest on Emmerdale, where she played the role of scheming minx Chloe Atkinson.

Her exit storyline in 2005 came after she lied to Carl King, telling him she was pregnant with his baby, and his dad Tom insisted he marry her. However, Carl was in love with Chas Dingle, and she with him, so when Chas found out that Amy was lying, and wasn’t pregnant, she forced Chloe to confess and ordered her to leave the village, which she did.

Other Downton stars who’ve got a soapy CV include Jim Carter who plays Mr Carson; he starred in The Bill. Also, Phyllis Logan, who plays housekeeper Mrs Hughes, found fame as Lady Jane Felsham in Lovejoy and as consultant Muriel McKendrick in Holby City in 1999.

Samantha Bond, who plays Lady Rosamund was barrister Mary McMahon in episodes of The Bill between 1998 and 2000, while Lesley Nicol, who plays Downton cook Mrs Patmore, has starred in The Bill, Casualty and Heartbeat.

Here’s a reminder of some of the show’s soapy heritage…

Amy Nuttall in Emmerdale…

Joanne Froggatt in Corrie – scroll to around 07.45 mins…

Rob James Collier’s final scenes in Corrie…

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.