Is Tom Branson now the leading man of “Downton Abbey”? Not exactly, but following the departure of Dan Stevens at the end of season 3, it has become significantly clearer that this is a character poised to take on a much more substantial role in the show. He may now actually hold second position to Hugh Bonneville’s Robert when it comes to importance among the leading men.
So what sort of position will we find Branson in when season 4 picks up a week from Sunday? (We’re speaking of course for British viewers; Americans still have to wait until January 5.) Speaking per the Telegraph in a publicity blitz for the new season, Allen Leech explains that we are going to continue to see his character, once a common man, struggle with the knowledge that he married his way into upper-class society, and how it is now all the more awkward courtesy of being a widower in it:
“I’m really happy to have the challenge of playing these scenes in which Tom is still very lost, and he’s in a world that he doesn’t really understand. You see that, definitely, through season four. He’s trying to find his feet. He may have a job, but he doesn’t really have a role or a status in the society, and that’s something that he needs to try and find.”
As for whether or not he plans to pull a Stevens and depart the series soon, Leech states that he is still very much enjoying his role, and there are no plans whatsoever to pack his bags:
“I’m still really enjoying what I do. And obviously, through some of these people departing, my storylines come up in a way that I really never expected.”
We can also tease that there is a romance coming up courtesy of Tom’s live-in nanny, though it remains unclear whether this will be something he will be able to disclose to the other members of Downton. Despite the way in which he rose to his status, there is still quite a bit of stigma that surrounds it.
Leech is not the first person to reassure fans about his intentions to stay put; recently, we saw Joanne Froggatt doing the same exact thing.