Five Downton Abbey stars choose their favourite moments from the show As the final series kicks off, we ask Hugh Bonneville and four other stars of the show to reflect on their favourite scenes

Over the last five years, Downton Abbey has cast a spell over audiences worldwide, whisking them back to the turn of the century for a gripping upstairs-downstairs tale of posh landed gentry and their colourful servants.

Now as the series returns for a final run of eight episodes and a Christmas special, Club Life asked cast members to choose the best moments of Downton drama to have emerged from England’s most famous fictional mansion.

Jim Carter (Carson the butler) chooses ‘The Posh Romance’

The romance between Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley (Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens) burned all too briefly. With Matthew - a distant cousin - set to inherit the Abbey, frosty Mary took an instant dislike to him.

Matthew went off to war, came home injured, recovered and then found love with Lavinia (Zoe Boyle). But when she conveniently succumbed to flu, a regretful Mary was able to win him back in the series two Christmas special. Their wedding in series three was the icing on the cake, and it’s also one of Jim Carter’s favourite scenes. As Carson the butler, he has always had a soft spot for ice queen Mary.

'My favourite individual scene is Lady Mary coming down the stairs in her wedding dress, looking up at her upstairs dad, Lord Grantham, and at her downstairs dad, Carson, and saying, “Will I do, Carson?”’. 'It was nice that she asked the question of Carson and not her own dad. It was short, but a lovely scene to play.’

Joanne Froggatt (Anna the maid) chooses: The May-to-December Relationship

The age-gap love between war-wounded valet John Bates (Brendan Coyle) and pretty maid Anna Smith (Joanne Froggatt) captured viewers’ hearts. She befriended him when other downstairs staff were bullying Bates. The pair were instantly attracted, although their romance has had more stumbling blocks than a field of boulders.

Joanne enjoyed their slow-burn relationship from the beginning. 'One of my all-time favourite scenes was one of the first meaningful scenes I did with Brendan, where Bates is about to be sacked and Anna takes him a tray of food to see if he’s ok,’ recalls Joanne. 'She catches him crying behind a door. I felt it was their first connection and I loved it.’

But more hindrances emerged. Bates was suspected of the murder of his ex-wife and then events took a more sinister turn when Anna was raped by a servant visiting Downton, Mr Green (Nigel Harman), who was later killed. Currently, Anna stands accused of Green’s murder, and the question remains as to whether the Bateses can enjoy a happy ending.

Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) chooses: The Shocking Sudden Death

The nation got an almighty shock in series three when the youngest of the Crawley sisters, Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay), died suddenly in childbirth from eclampsia. The fact that the character’s demise had been successfully kept secret from the press only added to its impact.

'That was a very powerful moment, combined with the fact that the British audience didn’t know it was coming,’ recalls Hugh Bonneville, who plays Sybil’s father, Robert.  'One of my all-time favourite scenes came after Sybil’s death, when Maggie [Smith, as the Dowager Countess] walked across the hallway on her own, and she falters just for a moment with the grief, and then walks on into the drawing room to resume her position as matriarch of strength. I thought that was very telling and beautifully pitched.’

Samantha Bond (Lady Rosamund) chooses: The Illegitimate Baby

Viewers longed for unsung second sister Edith (Laura Carmichael) to emerge from the shadow of her glamorous elder sister Mary. In season four she broke all the rules by having an affair with the married Mr Gregson (Charles Edwards), who shortly thereafter disappeared while in Germany seeking a divorce, leaving Edith to give birth to their daughter, Marigold.

Edith’s story has provided Downton with a tale full of struggle and grit and provided a chance to develop a close female relationship between Edith and her forward-thinking aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick (Samantha Bond), which has yielded many dramatic and touching scenes.

'My favourite sequence is when Edith comes to London and begins the affair,’ says Samantha. 'It went from Rosamund’s fury that Edith could have thrown away her future, then the pregnancy and decision to go away and have the baby abroad. They were bloody emotional scenes and a real joy to play.’

Phyllis Logan (Mrs Hughes the housekeeper) on The Butler’s Slow-Burning Romance

From the beginning, viewers hoped that lonely servants Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson (Phyllis Logan and Jim Carter) would find love later in life.

'Very quickly, people seemed to latch on to the fact that they thought Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson ought to get together, but it’s been the slowest burn ever!’ says Phyllis, laughing. 'The wick was down to the nub before anything ignited.’

It took three years until they even held hands, during a seaside trip in the 2013 Christmas special. 'I did like walking into the sea for a paddle with Mr Carter,’ recalls Phyllis. 'We only got that one day to film and it was blistering hot day in Whitstable in Kent. It was so lovely that a lot of the crew and cast went into the sea at lunchtime. It was such a party atmosphere.’

Now they’re betrothed, but as the new series begins they’re not yet married, mostly because Mrs Hughes is fretting about the more intimate aspects of marriage. 'We’re in Julian Fellowes Land here and he doesn’t want us all to be happy,’ warns Phyllis. 'Whether or not it ends happily remains to be seen.’

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Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Phyllis Logan, Joanne Frogatt

Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) on the departure of Dan Stevens: “My first reaction was, ‘Oh, crap. What is going to happen?’ Because I thought, ‘Where can this story go now?’ We spent all this time on this will-they-or-won’t they relationships. But as much as it was sad to see Dan go, same as it was sad to see Jessica go, it opens it up for Julian (Fellowes) to write a new chapter.”

Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith): “(Edith) is the Carrie Bradshaw of the ’20s.”

Carmichael: “Julian has this take that some people in life are lucky, and some people aren’t – and Edith (has been) definitely one of those unlucky people.”

Gareth Neame: “It is a really different season for Edith this year, a really active story for her.”

Joanna Froggatt (Anna) on the passage of time – season four begins in February 1922: “I don’t think it is that different down the line. Even if time wise we jump forward, the stories always kind of start off from the same place we left them. So I think they always make sense.”

Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes) on the interest in her relationship with Carson: “I suppose middle-aged love is interesting for middle-aged people.”

Froggatt: “The P Diddy video was certainly quite popular on the ‘Downton’ set.”


TCAs Downton Abbey panel 2013

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