Downton Abbey Series 3 – Rob James Collier and Ed Speleers discuss Thomas new love interest, Jimmy the footman!

by Anna Howell

With the new series of Downton Abbey due to start next month, the Earl is short a valet due to Bate’s murder charge, so who better to step into his shoes than Downton snake, Thomas?

Fans of the show will know how over the past two series of the hit ITV show, Thomas has been plotting and scheming his way to get Bate’s job, but not even he could have thought up the circumstance that actually brought it about.

Hated by everyone, and like a cat always landing on his feet, Thomas was last seen by viewers losing everything on the black market, and Rob James Collier believes that this may have humbled him somewhat, and even thinks that viewers will start to like him this series as they see his softer side come out:

“At the end of the last series he lost everything,” Collier explains.

“People saw a moment of vulnerability in him. Yes it was his own fault – he was doing something illegal – but some viewers felt sorry for him. This series he’s horribly misled, he lets someone into his heart and his life is hugely affected. When he goes on this journey I hope that people will empathise with him – perhaps even feel a little sympathy with him.”

Another endearing quality in Thomas this series is his dismissal of O’Brien as his partner in crime:

“O’Brien’s nephew Alfred comes on the scene. He’s young, he gets the job and is promoted to footman straight away. Thomas sees that as a threat – he sees him as getting the special treatment that he, Thomas, has never had in life. Or at least that’s what’s in his head, because he’s always been an outsider and a loner with his sexuality.

O’Brien has done everything to get her nephew in the house – and all of a sudden this woman who was always on his side is now helping someone else. Thomas gets jealous, and we should know by now that hell hath no fury like a footman scorned, Collier continues:

“He thought he and O’Brien had a special relationship. He works out everything was fine until the nephew comes along so he tries what he tried with Bates in series one – eliminate the problem by hook or by crook.

“O’Brien works out what Thomas is up to and thinks, ‘Okay, if you’re coming for my family then I’m coming for you.’

But, Thomas’ attention isn’t completely engulfed by getting rid of Alfred, the introduction of a new footman Jimmy opens up another side to the underserving valet’s character.

Ed Speleers, who plays Jimmy, explains his character’s equally scheming ways, and how he manipulates an infatuated Thomas’ into getting ahead in the house:

“Jimmy is a very ambitious young man who has come into the house having worked at the Dowager Lady Anstruther’s house and obviously done quite well there. He’s vying for the position of first footman. He comes into it as a bit of a mystery man – no one really quite knows who he’s into; what his turn-ons and turn-offs are as such. But as the series develops he gets himself into a couple of sticky situations.

“He actually realises that in order to succeed he’s got to keep in with Thomas, because Thomas is directly above him and a valet is what Jimmy aspires to be.”

However, there is one person, who is not going to be easy to get one over on, O’Brien, Speleer continues:

“He doesn’t know what the viewer’s know, and have known for the last two series – that O’Brien is a conniving so-and-so.”
However, she wont be the only female in the house he has problems with, as his character is set to be a handsome heartbreaker, Speleer explains:

“It’s something that Alistair Bruce [Downton’s historical advisor] talked about quite early on actually – the idea that men at that time, if they were regarded as a handsome fellow, probably wouldn’t appreciate it in the same way as a modern man would. It might even make them a bit uncomfortable, which I thought was an interesting take. I’ve tried to make it more about the fact that he’s coming in for a job interview and he’s really nervous about that. He’s oblivious to the fact that there might be a couple of women staring at him.

The new series on Downton Abbey begins next month on ITV1/ITV1 hd.