Times are certainly changing at “Downton Abbey,” and we are already getting set to see that more than ever in season 4 of the hit period drama. Production begins on the latest batch of episodes in a matter of months, and just based on the cast list alone, the make-up is going to be very different from what it was at this point last year. (Warning: If you live in America and want to avoid spoilers, now is the time to stop reading.)
So in the wake of the exits of both Jessica Brown Findlay (Sybil) and Dan Stevens (Matthew), where is the series going to head from here? According to what the source tells the Daily Mail, the show’s creator in Julian Fellowes is trying to look at this as a positive as best he can, and there are already expectations that at least one character will have a far larger role:
“Big changes will be coming to Downton next year … Expect the former chauffeur Tom Branson (Allen Leech) to take on a much larger role with Matthew out of the picture.”
Leech has quite a challenge here, as he will now be forced to deal with the pressure of being a replacement to a beloved actor, in addition to carrying a storyline that is also made difficult on him by the death of his character’s wife. The good news, thankfully, is that we rather like Tom’s character, and through one narrative lens much of this show could be about how a chauffeur manages to overcome obstacles (particularly in a rigid class system) and become something far greater than anyone expected him to be. It’s almost the American Dream concept … but not in America.
As for Stevens’ exit, we have once again learned something rather interesting: that Fellowes had left it open for the actor to return to the show for weeks leading up tot he Christmas special airing, and we would have cut the final scene out at the last minute had the actor opted to return as Matthew in some capacity.
Do you want to read some more interesting comments on Stevens’ exit? If so, you can do so via Fellowes himself here.