Let’s hope the Downton village undertakers aren’t going to have another busy weekend – because the signs are something big is going to happen on the show this weekend.
ITV has withheld press preview copies of this Sunday’s edition – a tactic they’ve employed in the past ahead of a death on the show.
The last time the channel declined to share an episode preview, Matthew Crawley met his end in a car crash. Before that, it was the shocking instalment in which new mother Sybil expired.
Of course, it could simply be that writer Julian Fellowes has something similarly dramatic, but less downbeat, up his starched, neatly pressed sleeve.
We know we’re about to meet some new characters including Kiri Te Kanawa’s Dame Nellie Melba, Nigel Harman’s valet Green and, not least, Lady Mary’s old and rather dashing friend Lord Gillingham, played by Tom Cullen – perhaps he’s about to help her “get over” Matthew once and for all…
But if another character is set to meet their TV maker (the giant Julian Fellowes in the sky), who might it be? Allen Leech, who plays Branson – the former chauffeur who now has his feet firmly under the top table – reckons he’s in the clear.
“I figured once Jess [Jessica Brown Findlay] went that I was pretty safe,” he told us. “And we knew that Dan [Stevens] wanted to leave so I was like, ‘I’m pretty sure I’m okay this year!'”
According to the bookies, Lord Grantham’s valet Bates, is 3-1 favourite to be next to kick the bucket, followed by under butler Thomas Barrow, who’s 7/1 to expire.
The ageing Dowager Countess is the third most likely character to get the chop, with odds of 8/1 from William Hill, who nevertheless seem to think producers would be foolish to kill of the funniest character in the drama by a mile.
And what about plump cook Mrs Patmore? Have you seen how badly she handles that newfangled electric whisk…?
Find out what the big drama is in episode three of Downton Abbey on ITV at 9pm on Sunday…