Downton Abbey star Iain Glen on Sir Richard Carlisle’s Christmas

by Lynn Connolly

As fans of Downton Abbey will of course know, Sir Richard Carlisle is practically blackmailing Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) into going through with her promise to marry him…

But as we saw in the last series – and as will be continued in the Christmas special of the show – Lady Mary’s heart belongs to Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) and Sir Richard is only too aware of that fact.

So, during the Christmas special – which airs on Christmas Day on ITV1 at 9pm – we’ll see him resorting to whatever means necessary to ensure Mary will never be with Matthew.

And Iain Glen, who plays the shady Richard – and who has also starred in HBO drama Game of Thrones as well as Taggart, Coronation Street and Doctor Who – has been telling What’s On TV what we can expect of his character at Christmas.

When asked if Sir Richard finds Christmas with the Crawleys at Downton a rather daunting prospect, Iain said, “Yes, I think he does. It is all rather touchy-feely, which he finds rather disorientating…

“He has never been particularly comfortable at Downton and Christmas proves to be a particularly awkward time for him because all the family are together…

“They have their routines which are familiar to them and alien to him.

“He finds himself a bit of a fish out of water and finds it difficult to enjoy the fun of things like charades.”

And of Sir Richard’s relationship with Lady Mary, Iain said, “I think during the course of the series he has fallen in love with her a little.

“I don’t think his motives were entirely pure to begin with but he’s a bold enough man to express that.

“At the beginning of the relationship it was all about a marriage of convenience that might suit them.

“But Julian Fellowes, who writes it, has always felt that they might actually be peculiarly suited to one another.

“What Richard would offer Mary is the freedom to express herself as a woman in her own house and I don’t think he would keep the shackles on her too much.

“In Richard’s defence he made his position very clear. He didn’t say I’m madly in love with you.

“He said I think we could be a good match, we would pair off well together and do good things. But it was from a very honest standpoint.

“During the course of the series, Mary has given him a fair amount of the run around. If anyone has been in a position where they love somebody who is not reciprocating, or emotionally or physically misbehaving, it doesn’t bring out the best in you.”

Finally, Iain was asked, “Is Sir Richard evil and manipulative?” to which he replied, “No one is entirely black or white in Downton. I don’t judge him too strongly.

“I think he is in a very alien world and tries to make sense of it for himself and he uses means that objectively aren’t too appealing.

“He is a newspaper man and it is in his blood. The way he discovers stories and the way he operates as a businessman overflows into his emotional life as well.”

Well, sorry Iain, but I want Mary and Matthew to be together! What say you?

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.