Thinking woman’s pin-up actor Brendan Coyle – who of course plays the role of valet John Bates in Downton Abbey – has revealed that in the forthcoming fourth series of the ITV period drama, though it seems “life is a bed of roses” for John and his wife Anna, that’s all set to change drastically…
He began by remarking, “It’s incredible! Bates is actually really happy!”
However, the notion that Bates – who’s suffered more than his fair share of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune over previous three series of Downton – may finally get to enjoy a quiet life makes Brendan chuckle…
He said, “Series three we summarised as, ‘Mr Bates incarcerates, Anna Bates investigates, who liberates Mr Bates, who then decorates with Anna Bates.’
“So we thought maybe in series four he and Anna [Joanna Froggatt] might germinate baby Bates!”
But there’s no sign of a baby Bates as the series begins and we see that Bates and Anna are back at work while living happily in a cottage on the grounds.
Brendan said, “Life is a bed of roses! We were all trying to predict what was going to happen…
“But nobody could, especially as each series varies widely from the one previous. All I will say is that something happens that shakes their world and has serious consequences.”
If it’s not quite the domestic bliss his character might’ve wished for, it’s another meaty storyline for Coyle to play.
He continued, “As an actor, you want to be playing scenes like this all the time. But when you get them, it’s just great.
“This theme in particular is dark and powerful, and of course I’m sharing it with Jo, which is just brilliant.
“When I read it, I picked up the phone to Jo and said, ‘Have you seen this?’ We were just thrilled because we didn’t see it coming.
“We thought it was Julian’s best writing for us. We’re the kind of actors who think this is the kind of stuff we want to sink our teeth into.”
Meanwhile, at the other end of the dramatic scale, Brendan revealed that he spends much of his screen time dressing ‘his’ Lord, Hugh Bonneville.
He commented, “You never see Bates performing duties other than dressing and undressing his Lordship, but there’s a formality to that.
“I can do his cuffs up very quickly now! The bow-tie is still quite difficult though!
“We’ve figured out all these different ways of getting dressed and undressed whilst doing a scene.
“I can dress Hugh Bonneville in about 45 seconds. And I can undress him in 10…”
That’s gotta be some kind of a record! And, just for the record, one I wouldn’t mind watching…
Anyhoo, moving swiftly on, here’s a reminder of the series four trailer…