There is no easy way to put this. The casting for Downton Abbey Series 4 is odd. Surely they could have got anyone they wanted? Without casting aspersions on any of those they have involved — who, I am sure, will turn out to be brilliant — why not go for some big names? Or some really outlandish celebrity choices? Instead we have Dame Kiri De Kanawa of 1981-Royal-Wedding-Fame and Tom Cullen and Julian Ovenden of No-one-Can-Really-Remember-Fame. (Cullen is a new-ish unknown. Ovenden was in Foyle’s War.)
But the icing on the Cake of Disappointment is truly the departure of Miss O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran). This is a total and utter disaster. Bigger, I would suggest, that even Cousin Matthew (Dan Stevens) leaving. The dynamic between Thomas and O’Brien is what has kept many of us going over the past three long years. I’m sure it’s the right thing for Siobhan Finneran (although it’s a type-casting which will already be difficult to escape) but it’s a tragedy for Uncle Julian and his already all-over-the-place plot. Without Thomas and O’Brien at the centre of the downstairs shenanigans, I dread to think of how messed up everything will be. New series filming starts now. On air September. And so we forge onwards.