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Downton Abbey
© Nick Briggs

‘Downton Abbey’ season four: Laura Carmichael interview

The actress who plays Lady Edith Crawley talks about the fourth season of ‘Downton Abbey’, Edith’s romantic adventures and having a ‘rebellious moment’

By Gabriel Tate
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Edith’s looking a bit more glamorous this year
‘Yeah! It’s amazing. [Costume designer] Caroline McCall really thought about how Edith, going to London, would see these changes in fashion and have a bit of a play. It’s a rebellious moment, having dinner with her married boyfriend, in a public restaurant…’

Mary and Edith seem to have switched roles a bit this year.
‘Edith didn’t get those opportunities in the house. Nothing happened at her coming-out ball. She absolutely would have wanted a relationship, nursed a man much older than her, held dinner parties – but he jilted her. Then her rebellious, beautiful sister dies, and there’s a decision that she has to get involved in life. She goes to London and meets a man interested in her brain. It’s been a beautiful evolution, to change from this bookish, left-out child to someone able to speak her opinions forcefully. She realises life is very short.’

Is Edith making another bad romantic decision?
‘Julian Fellowes has said in interviews that he believes some people in life are lucky and some people aren’t. Edith can’t just meet a nice simple man and settle down. He’s complicated but interesting, which is appealing.’

Does she want to reach out to support her sister, Mary, in her grief?
‘They’re not modern day characters – it’s the 1920s British upper classes. As much as we want them to have a cry and hug it out, that’s not how these women would have behaved. There are times when Edith can barely look at Mary, at that much pain. That’s far more interesting than them becoming best friends.’

What are her feelings about Rose?
‘I love the tension between them. Edith can still be a bit of a bitch, and she finds Rose flippant and silly.’

How have you enjoyed the reaction from fans?
‘It’s funny how it’s changed over the years. People have gone from feeling sorry for Edith to wanting her to find love.’

Read our review of ‘Downton Abbey’

Season four, episode one

3 out of 5 stars
Things to do TV, radio and podcast recordings

As always, almost every character is given some sort of subplot, but the early series’ lightness of touch is still lacking and the plotting remains inordinately laboured and often plain lazy. After all, why have silence when there’s exposition to be spouted?

See the full ‘Downton Abbey’ review
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