Downton Abbey’s Nigel Harman: My character has no redeeming qualities

The former EastEnder is getting ready to stir things up at the Abbey - and bracing himself for the reaction from the show's dedicated fans...


Chances are you recognise Nigel Harman as bad boy Dennis in BBC1 soap EastEnders. Since leaving the Square behind in 2005, Harman has thrown his energy into the theatre, winning an Olivier Award in 2012 for his role in Shrek: The Musical. But he’s making a return to our TV screens this autumn. As well as appearing in the third series of Sky Living’s Mount Pleasant, Harman is set to star in ITV’s Downton Abbey. He sat down with to talk about the hit period drama…


Are you looking forward to Downton-mania kicking off when the fourth series starts later this year? Downton fans are very dedicated…

Yes they are, aren’t they! I am slightly in denial about all of that because I’m only living it through the people that are in it. They keep doing that thing were they look at you and then they give you the head nod and say “You do know that when it’s aired here it starts in America.” Apparently America is even more head nod-y. So I don’t know what that means yet.

But I am playing a character who is going to stir things up, so it should be interesting. A lot of them go “Wait until they’ve found out about your character…”

So he’s a bit of a trouble-maker is he? Is there anything of Dennis [Harman’s long-running character in EastEnders] in him?

Oh, I don’t know really. I think he’s a bit better spoken than Dennis because he’s a valet, and you have to be a little bit more together. But this man is incredibly charming, to the point where he’s too good to be true – and that’s what it turns out. I think Dennis maybe had redeeming qualities, even though he was violent and a murderer, whereas I think this guy doesn’t have redeeming qualities.

Sounds intriguing… Is there anything else you can tell us about him?

Most of my stuff is with Anna and Mr Bates…

Nigel Harman also stars in Mount Pleasant. The third series starts on 11 September on Sky Living