Tag Archives: nigel harman

Downton Abbey: Let’s get the party restarted

Yes, she is real

Yes, she is real

(Series 4, ep.4)  After last week’s nasty rape left viewers feeling a bit grubby and upset, this week Downton was mostly back to romance, glamour and froth.

Mary, in particular, wore some absolutely gorgeous dresses. It’s no wonder Lord Gillingham was smitten. Not just smitten – Mary is all he can think about and he wants to spend the rest of his life with her and her wonderfully expressive eyebrows.

Mary’s mind, however, is still full of Matthew and that’s how she wants it to stay for now, so she turned him down. Since Gillingham already had a Miss Lane-Fox lined up as a fiancee, Mary is now wondering whether she’s made a rash decision.

Having Gillingham around meant that his valet, Evil Mr Green, was also lurking for part of the episode. This wasn’t pleasant for Anna, since Mr Green is, of course, the man who raped her. Everyone kept asking if Anna was alright – Lord and Lady Grantham, Carson, and particularly her husband Mr Bates. Anna couldn’t bear Mr Bates to touch her, so she’s asked if she can move back into the house for now so she doesn’t have to risk “wifely duties.” Joanne Froggatt’s portrayal of Anna’s pain, fear and dignity was understated and convincing.

Mrs Hughes is the only person who knows Anna’s secret. Mrs Hughes is the secret-keeper for a lot of people on Downton, because she’s kind and trustworthy, if a tiny bit scary. The way she sorted out Edna when she tried to blackmail Tom Branson into marrying her this week was a case in point. If only Mrs Hughes could find a way to scare Mr Green the way she scared Edna, Anna’s life would be slightly easier.

Meanwhile, Rose met a handsome, if slightly camp, jazz singer, but she wasn’t the most shockingly-behaved person of the week. We have to award that accolade to Lady Edith, who was seen by her aunt’s maid tiptoeing up the stairs barefoot in the wee small hours, having presumably been with her soon-to-be-German boyfriend. Lady Rosamund was not amused.


Filed under Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey: Poor Anna

anna downton abbey(Series 4, ep.3)  ITV didn’t send out any preview DVDs to the press for this episode, prompting speculation that Something Big was going to happen. On the previous occasions when they apparently didn’t send out previews, we lost Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley in shock episodes.

My money was on Mrs Patmore shuffling off the mortal coil  mid-dinner service. It’s true that she did take a bit of a funny turn, but it turned out to be a red herring of a panic attack and she will live to bake pie another day.

In a house full of new people, frankly anything could have happened. Even Dame Kiri Te Kanawa turned up, as Dame Nellie Melba. Having an opera singer in the house was almost too much for His Lordship, who didn’t think it was quite seemly to have the world famous chanteuse eating at his dinner table and ordered a tray to be sent up. Her Ladyship is made of more modern stock (she’s American), so she overturned his tray plan and insisted that Dame Nellie would sit next to him at dinner and they darn well would make small talk, so there.

Also at the dinner party was Lord Gillingham, a potential new love interest for Mary. Edith brought her married boyfriend, who proceeded to ingratiate himself with Lord G by winning all his money back from a card shark. And there was a nasty visiting servant Green, played by Nigel Harman.

And he was the source of the expected shock. He didn’t die – there weren’t any deaths apart from a further nail in the coffin of Molesley’s self respect when he went from road mender to delivery boy to footman in the space of one episode. What Green did was actually worse – he raped The Sainted Anna.

The actual rape wasn’t shown, though we saw him hit her and drag her into a room. What was most distressing was her reaction afterwards, as she begged Mrs Hughes not to tell anybody, in case Bates tried to take revenge and ended up in prison with a death sentence over him. Joanne Froggatt was excellent, showing Anna trying to put on her usual calm facade as if nothing had happened, but  letting us see how traumatised she was.

It really was a shocking incident and I find myself completely unable to decide whether I thought it was gratuitous and a bit exploitative. I think I’ll have to wait and see how the aftermath unfolds in coming episodes. What I do know is that this is one episode that didn’t leave me with a happy, satisfied smile on my face.


Filed under Downton Abbey