Downton Abbey has quickly been cemented in this nations national treasure list since it first hit our screens back in 2010, gaining a devote following and admiration across the globe, so it was no wonder that some people voiced their anger when one of the show favourites was killed off during last year’s Christmas Day Special.
Since hitting our screens three and a half series’ ago Downton captured the hearts of several nations, captivating audiences everywhere with its heart-warming and, at time, heart-wrenching storylines surrounding the Grantham family and the great estate they lived in the early 1900’s.
One of the most applauded and best loved stories was that of the gradual love between Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) which saw them finally married at the beginning of series 3.
Unfortunately, however, after his initial 3 year contract came to an end at the end of that series, Dan Stevens who played Matthew announced his decision to leave the show for pastures new, leaving the writers in an impossible situation.
Unlike the downstairs staff who are free to leave the estate at any time without the shadow of death surrounding them, Matthew’s position as heir to the estate, Mary’s husband, and manager of Downton Abbey in general left the script no alternative but to have him killed off to explain his exit whilst keeping the storyline as historically accurate and believable as possible.
But, as with any popular character, there was a public uproar when Matthew met his maker during last year’s Christmas special when his car crashed off the road killing him only moments after meeting his first born son and heir.
But whilst we may have felt some disappointment or even anger at the cruel twist, there are some fans who took their opinions to dangerous levels, forcing the show’s creator Julian Fellowes to hire a bodyguard to protect him, as he has been explaining on US TV:
“I was afraid to go out without bodyguards
“I was very interested by that. People didn’t understand that we’re not in control of that kind of stuff, if an actor wants to leave the show.
“I love Dan. I wish him nothing but good things. But he felt he’d done his three years, and that was the end of that, and he wanted to go on.
“Of course we couldn’t suddenly make him unhappy and hating Mary and never wanting to see his son again. It just wasn’t believable.
“So I’m afraid it was looking bad for him. But that was extraordinary.
“We did get an absolute barrage of criticism for that. It’s calmed down a bit now, actually, but I don’t know. What I’m always rather touched by is the way these people become real to the audience.”
The writing genius then went on to defend Downton’s recent criticism over the rape of another show favourite Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) by insisting that the episode, which saw the ladies maid attacked by a visiting valet, was “not offensive” but instead was “complicated and intelligent and involving”.
Downton Abbey continues on Sunday night at 9pm on ITV1/ITV1 HD.