Julian Fellowes On Downton Abbey’s Fourth Season
Later this year ITV’s hit period drama Downton Abbey will return for a fourth season. The recent Christmas Special saw the birth of Lady Mary’s (Michelle Dockery) baby but in true soap opera fashion the event was tinged with sadness as her husband Matthew (Dan Stevens) was killed in a motor accident.
Writer/creator Julian Fellowes has already stated that the fourth season will focus of Lady Mary’s attempt to rebuild her life following the death of Matthew and that a new suitor would be introduced for her. In a new interview with the New York Times the writer also revealed the fourth season would pick up events six months on from Matthew’s death removing the need for the drama to “do funerals and all that stuff. That’s all in the past by then”
Fellowes also revealed he originally hoped to write Dan Stevens out of Downton in the first episode of season four rather than the Christmas Special. “I had hoped that we would have one episode of this fourth season that I’m writing now, so we could have ended the Christmas special on a happy note – the baby, everything lovely…And then kill [Matthew] in the first episode of the next series. But [Stevens] didn’t want to do that….I didn’t want his death to dominate the Christmas special, so that’s why we killed him at the very, very end.”
Dan Stevens was not the only actor to bow out of Downton Abbey during its third series; Jessica Brown-Findlay also made her final appearance as Lady Sybil but her character dying after giving birth. Fellowes discussed reason for killing off both Matthew and Lady Sybil “When an actor playing a servant wants to leave, there isn’t really a problem – [that character gets] another job. With members of the family, once they’re not prepared to come back for any episodes at all, then it means death. Because how believable would it be that Matthew never wanted to see the baby, never wanted to see his wife? So we didn’t have any option, really. I was as sorry as everyone else.”
At the National Television Awards, in January, Fellowes stated he would like to bring back American actress Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levison for the fourth season. MacLaine played Martha, the mother of Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) for two episodes of the third series and the character was a sparring partner for Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith), the Dowager Countess.
Recent press reports have linked former EastEnders and Miranda actor Tom Ellis as the producers favourite to play Lady Mary’s new suitor.