The much-anticipated fourth series of Downton Abbey has been met with much criticism over its main storylines since hitting our screens earlier this season, what with the tragic death of Matthew Crawley and the rape of Anna Bates, causing many to wonder just what the future holds for this once beloved British drama institution.
Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) was sensationally killed off during last year’s Christmas special in a storyline which more than slightly mimicked the death of Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) in the series right before.
The decision to kill off the beloved character of Matthew, who fans had only just seen marry his continued love interest Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), came from writers who found their hands tied as the actor who played him, Dan Stevens, had decided not to renew his contract at the end of series 3.
Then, whilst the rest of the house was still coming to terms with the tragedy at the start of series 4, another much-loved character Anna Bates (Joanne Froggat) was subjected to a brutal rape at the hands of a visiting valet, Green (Nigel Harman), causing even more controversy.
But now two of the shows stars, Penelope Wilton who plays Isobel Crawley and MyAnna Buring who plays ladies maid Edna, have spoken out about the rape, and the future of the show following it.
MyAnna, whose character left mid way through the current seris after trying to trap Tom Branson (Allen Leech) into getting her pregnant and marrying her, addressed the subject of whether her character Edna will return to the show in the future to The Radio Times:
“I don’t know, but never say never with Downton. I was such a massive fan of the show that sitting down at the kitchen table opposite Mrs Hughes and Carson was surreal,”
Discussing the attack which nearly ended Anna’s marriage, and the controversy surrounding it, she continued: “I think rape should always provoke a very strong reaction. It will be a sad state of affairs when it doesn’t.”
Meanwhile Penelope Wilton, who plays Matthew’s mother in the hit period drama, said of the shows future, and whether it could continue forever:
“I doubt it. I don’t think anything can go on and on. Everyone would be bored stiff with it.”
Going on to describe the atmosphere on set with the star-studded cast, she commented:
“We’ve got to know each other very well professionally, so we do interact very well.
“It is like being in a (theatre) company and all the better for it probably because you can talk in shorthand, as it were, and do more of the acting.
“We play a lot of Bananagrams … We do very short scenes so we come in and out. We don’t get bored with one another. It is the closest thing in television to being an ensemble in theatre.”
Downton Abbey continues on Sunday at 9pm on ITV1/ITV1 HD.