After so many beloved characters – think Matthew Crawley, Lady Sybil and O’Brien – left during series three it’s only natural that the cast of Downton Abbey should be topped back up with an influx of fresh new faces.
And according to Allen Leech, who plays chauffeur turned man of the house Tom Branson, the new characters have given the show “a new lease of life.”
Speaking at yesterday’s series four launch in London, Leech said: “In any show characters come and go and it definitely gives it a new lease of life, and a new energy as well. People come in and they are bringing something to their characters and something you haven’t seen before.”
“It definitely makes it very exciting,” he continued. “All these new faces that we have… It’s been really interesting and I think the show really benefits from that. The intensity of the drama has definitely upped this year.”
Of course, the new faces don’t quite fill the holes left by established cast members – Leech’s on-screen wife, played by Jessica Brown Findlay, died in childbirth half way through series three. “It’s sad, you miss them,” Leech admitted.
“But then for the story a lot of the time it works very well. Your character continues and develops and you keep going, you know. That’s showbiz!”
Prepare to see lots of unfamiliar faces inside the Abbey’s walls in series four, when the likes of Paul Giamatti, Gary Carr, Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Daisy Lewis, Joanna David and Harriet Walter make their appearances.
Downton Abbey returns to ITV in the autumn for an eight-part series.