Downton Abbey’s Cara Theobold on the show’s acting greats, her ‘telly mummy’ and what’s next for Ivy

"Ivy’s the bottom of the heap at the moment. But she is ambitious..."

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Series four of Downton Abbey has been a busy one for kitchen maid Ivy Stuart. We’ve seen her get drunk, kiss Jimmy, bicker with Daisy and refuse a marriage proposal from Alfred. As we look ahead to the Christmas special and series five, RadioTimes.com sat down with Cara Theobold, the actress who plays her

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So, what’s next for the youngest member of Downton Abbey’s staff?

Ivy’s finding her feet and she’s at that time that I think everyone can relate to where you’re growing up and finding out who you are and what kind of person you are.

She’s the bottom of the heap at the moment. But she is ambitious and she’s a bit of a dreamer and she does want more from her life. But she’s at the point where she’s not quite sure what it is she wants.

Do you have hopes for where Ivy might go?

We get the scripts as the series goes along so we can’t really second guess where it’s headed. When the scripts do arrive we get really excited because we can see the next steps in our character’s journey.

Julian Fellowes isn’t afraid to kill his characters off. Are you ever worried about Ivy’s future?

Well, the fact that I wasn’t dead by Christmas was very nice! I don’t know, I think it’s natural that characters come and go. People do die, don’t they. It’s such a big cast… It keeps the dynamic fresh.

Was it nice not to be the new girl in series four?

Yeah. Going to the read-through this year I felt a lot more relaxed seeing my friends again compared to last year, seeing these incredible actors and having to speak in front of them.

Your first day on the job must have been nerve-wracking…

I was more nervous on the read-through than I was in any of my auditions. It was my first audition ever so I had no expectations of anything – I just thought it’d be a great experience – so when I got it, sitting at the read-through with these people, it actually sunk in. I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s Maggie Smith!’

It must be easier once you are in costume. Though, aren’t you worried about breaking or staining the uniforms?

Well… it doesn’t matter if you get them dirty in the scene, it’s just at lunch!

Upstairs, the Crawley’s get to wear some lovely dresses. Are you jealous of their gowns?

As myself I love them and I think they are beautiful but Ivy’s costume is part of her and her lifestyle. Glamorous or not, that’s what fits the character.

Would you like to venture out of the servant’s quarters?

At some point in my career. Hopefully I won’t be a kitchen maid forever!

Do you have a dream role?

No not really. I get very excited about new writing. Maybe that dream role’s not been written yet.

Downton Abbey is full great actors. You must have learned a lot… 

I have a lot of scenes with Lesley Nichol, who plays Mrs Patmore. Sophie [McShere, who plays Daisy] calls her Telly Mummy. We have a really close bond us three kitchen girls and so as an actor at the beginning of my career I’ve learned a lot from them.

I’m assuming you get on better with Sophie than Ivy gets on with Daisy?!

Sometimes we are like, ‘Do we like each other now?’  But yes, in real life we get on very, very well.

Are you aware of how big the show is when you are filming?

Never. I never think about that. It’s only when we’ve finished filming that it dawns on me that it’s going to be seen all over the world. It’s a bit crazy… It’s really crazy actually. I don’t think I’d be able to do it if I was thinking about that all the time. I’d be completely freaked out.

When you’ve left the set behind, do you get noticed by Downton fans?

Not really and I’m quite glad. I think it’d be weird if I was. Maybe if I went out in my pinny… with a whisk.

Downton Abbey series four is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on 11 November 2013


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