Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery: “chivalry is dying”

The Downton sisters talk to RT about the end of the present series - and modern-day society

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The three sisters of Downton Abbey have talked exclusively to Radio Times about the end of the present series, what the future may hold for the characters – and what working on the show has made them think of modern-day society. 

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Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, laments the end of chivalry: “Those old manners – such as men standing when women arrive at the dinner table or opening doors for you – are lovely, and it’s lovely when you see a man doing that today,” she says. “But young men wouldn’t think about that for a second because it’s not the culture any more.”

Dockery doesn’t think today is all bad, though: “We take so many of our freedoms for granted nowadays – I can travel where I like, I can have a baby when I like, I can do any job I want.” 

Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith, agrees but does think the constrictions of the early 1900s work well for the drama: “The requirement in those days to find a husband, simply to survive financially, was just awful, but for the drama it’s great because there is a real sense of jeopardy for the girls and that’s what Julian Fellowes writes so wonderfully.”

Jessica Brown Findlay, Lady Sybil, thinks her character may get a happy ending – “She needs to really work out what it is she wants from life, but she’ll get there” – but has no inside information about what might be coming for her in a third series: “I’ll leave that to Julian Fellowes!”

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You can read the full interviews in the new edition of Radio Times magazine, on sale now.