With a fourth series hopefully in the making, but with some of the hugely successful ITV drama’s stars involvement in it still in question, will Downton Abbey ever be the same again?
And so, as the nation prepares itself for the final instalment of what has been another epic series of Downton Abbey, Unreality TV thought it would be nice to recap some of the joys and sorrows that series three of the phenomenal period drama has provided us with, and so with no further ado, we give to you our top five moments from this series!
5. Ethel gives up baby Charlie
Ethel (Amy Nuttal) came on to our Downton screens in series two, as a housemaid with dreams and aspirations of being something more than just a servant. Unfortunately, the only thing to overpower her lust for life was her lust for men, and when Downton Abbey turned into a convalescent home during the First World War, she revelled at the thought of having her pick of the officers.
Unfortunately for her, when she finally made her choice she was caught red handed in bed with him by Mrs Hughes, who instantly dismissed her, but that wasn’t to be the last we saw of Ethel.
Mrs Hughes showed a softer side to her usually strict character when Ethel turned up on her doorstep, pregnant and alone, when she organised for a visit from the parents of the father of Ethel’s son, Charlie, who had been killed during the war. Whilst shocked by the revelation Charlie’s grandparents offered to take Charlie back with them and give him a charmed life, but unable to part with her child, Ethel declined their offer.
Series three saw Ethel at her lowest point yet, prostituting herself to be able to feed her son, and after being found out by Mrs Hughes, she finally came to the heartbreaking conclusion that Charlie would indeed be better off living the life his father had, and reluctantly handed him over to his new guardians.
The end of series three see’s Ethel now employed by cousin Isabel but always still devastated at her loss. We wonder what the future will hold for her in series four, if there is one!
4 – Lady Edith’s humiliation
With all her sisters happily pared off and beginning their new lives Edith (Laura Carmichael) has not only run out of victims for her spiteful behaviour, but also starts to feel very lonely. When Sir Anthony Strallan (Robert Bathurst) returns from war she decides they should pick up where they left off and make him her husband. Sir Anthony isn’t quite so keen, however, and when the Dowager Countess learns that he has returned from war lame, she makes it her mission to stop her granddaughter from devoting her life to him.
And her plan works well until Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) takes pity on his daughters pleas and agrees to allow them to marry, and soon another massive Crawley wedding is being planned. On the day itself Edith looked amazing and actually showed some kindness and feelings towards her family However, her joy soon turns to heartbreak when, at the altar, Sir Anthony backs out of his vows and makes a dash for the back of the church, leaving poor Edith hurt, humiliated and heartbroken.
Now a budding journalist, tonight’s finale is set to hold more upset for Edith when she finds out something untoward about her editor, so the question remains will she ever find happiness again? In series four perhaps!
3 – Bates is released from prison
We all watched in shock and horror as Mr Bates (Brendan Coyle) was arrested and locked up for the murder of his former wife, Vera, during last year’s Christmas special. Things didn’t start too well for the valet this series as he faced the prospect of hanging for the crime that he did not commit. The only saving grace for him was that he had managed to marry his sweetheart, Anna (Joanne Froggatt) before being slung in the cells, and her love and loyalty showed immense strength as she tirelessly campaigned to get him home. First of all she managed to have the death penalty overturned to life imprisonment thanks to the help and financial backing of Lord Grantham, and the scenes of her sat with him in the pub following the ruling were some of the most heart-warming the show has shown.
Never once faltering, or doubting her husband, Anna sets herself a mission to uncover evidence to prove that Vera killed herself, and finally gets a lucky break when she speaks to Vera’s neighbour who confirms that she witnessed Vera baking the pie that the poison that killed her was in. Unfortunately for her the neighbour in question is not Mr Bates biggest fan and it is touch or go as to whether she would make a statement to the police that would clear his name. She did, however, and Mr Bates was welcomed home to Downton Abbey by staff and family alike.
Now they are finally reunited we are all hoping that series 4 will bring some well deserved happiness to the couple, and maybe even the patter of tiny Bates feet?
2 – Lady Mary & Matthew’s wedding
Throughout the first two series of this epic ITV period drama we were all hooked on the will-they-wont-they romance between Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew (Dan Stevens) so when he finally proposed, and she finally accepted, at the end of the Christmas special last year, we were all thrilled at the prospect of a happy ever after for our favourite characters.
However, in true Downton tradition, the wedding went about as smoothly as their romance.
Matthew is still racked with guilt over the death of his late fiancée and when her father leaves him his entire estate in his will, a huge issue arises when Lady Mary suggests that the money be used to bail out Lord Grantham who has lost his entire fortune in a bad investment. Matthew refuses, believing that his former nearly father in law would never have left him the money if he had known that his daughter had witnessed Matthew and Mary kissing just before her death.
Mary declares that Matthew is not on her side and says that she doesn’t think she can marry him if he is not prepared to help her family butt thanks to Matthews sentimentally appointed best man, Tom, they do eventually make it down the aisle, and after Matthew finds out that Levinia’s father had indeed known about the kiss, he agrees to put the inheritance into the estate, saving Downton Abbey from ruin.
Sounds like a happy ever after, right? However, if you think it will stay that way then you may be disappointed as teasers suggest that in tonight’s episode Mary is discovered to be keeping something from her new husband coupled with reports that Dan Stevens who plays Matthew has decided not to renew his contract if a fourth series is commissioned, could spell heartbreak for these star-crossed lovers!
1 – Lady Sybil’s death
Fans of this award-winning ITV drama will know how lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) eloped with Tom Branson (Allen Leech), the former chauffeur, to start a new, more humble life with him in Ireland. News that Lady Sybil was expecting her first baby reached Downton during the Christmas special and everyone eagerly awaited of the first Crawley grandchild.
Tom and Sybil came back to Downton in series two for the wedding of Matthew and Mary and after a shaky start, and a strong alliance with Matthew, their marriage finally started to be accepted.
They returned in much more sinister circumstances later in the series, however, when Tom’s loud political opinions got him banned from Ireland resulting in him fleeing his home, leaving a heavily pregnant Sybil to make her own way back to Downton. Nearly at her due date, Sybil was advised to stay with her parents until after the baby arrived, after which she and her husband planned to move to Liverpool to start a fresh. However, when the time came for the new arrival the family’s physician raised concerns that Lady Sybil was showing real signs of the life threatening blood pressure condition, eclampsia.
However, the child birth specialist that Lord Grantham had employed especially for the happy occasion disagreed, and whilst they all fought over whether to have lady Sybil transported to hospital for an emergency c-section, she had the baby. All seemed well at first but in the middle of the night the family, and viewers too, were shocked when Lady Sybil died of the condition.
This tragedy drove real divides between the members of the Crawley family, especially between Lord and Lady Grantham as she blamed her husband for her daughter untimely death. Even the Dowager Countess (Dame Maggie Smith) showed a less iron side to her when she collapsed in tears after hearing the sad, sad news.
Whilst Lady Crawley finally forgave her husband, the issues then turned to baby Sybil’s future, with Tom putting his foot down and have his baby girl baptised a catholic, much to Lord Grantham’s disapproval. The next issue that came up was the child’s upbringing, with Tom determined to take her back with him to Liverpool to live a simple life, but as pictures we published in today’s article show, it looks like he may have changed his mind and will leave her to be brought up at Downton Abbey after all.
Do you agree with our selection, or do you have any other moments that you think should have made our top five? Leave your thoughts and comments below:
The series finale of Downton Abbey can be seen tonight at 9pm on ITV1/ITV1 HD.