Why is Richard E Grant playing an art historian in Downton Abbey?

There are months until we'll know for sure, so we've indulged in some harmless speculation...

Those chaps over at Downton Abbey are notoriously cagey when it comes to plot spoilers. It could be months before we know anything concrete about the next series of the hit ITV period drama…


But Richard E Grant, the Girls and Withnail and I actor who is set to star in the upcoming fifth series, has let a few details slip. Apparently his new character is called Simon Bricker (note no title) and he is an art historian. 

Grant stopped talking there for fear of what might happen – “I’m told if I say anything more my knees will be taken off” – but don’t you worry. We may not know how big a part Bricker will play or why he’s at the Abbey in the first place, but, hey, we can speculate… 

The Monument’s Men: take two

Hugh Bonneville aka Robert Crawley has recently been in Hollywood blockbuster The Monuments Men where he played one of a band of jolly helpful chaps charged with rescuing priceless art from the Nazis. It’s a good story. Perhaps Fellowes was a little short of inspiration…

Maybe Edith’s missing man has been dallying with the German thugs over their flagrant disregard for the value of artwork all this time. Series five will see him alert Robert to his plight and he and his chum Simon Bricker will head off to Germany to save the day. If this theory is correct we could also expect to see a cameo from George Clooney, which would obviously be a splendid idea. 

Going once… 

The Crawley’s are suffering from money woes. Again. Looks like the pig plan didn’t work out… Rather than panicking and deciding to sell the Abbey like last time, the gang settle on selling off some of the family artwork. But they don’t want to sell any of their priceless paintings for less than they are worth, so they draft in charming art expert Simon Bricker, who Robert, Violet, Cora and co place all their trust in. A decision, if we’ve learned anything from the melodramtic world of Downton Abbey, they may very well end up regretting

An older gentleman 

Maybe he’s another suitor for Lady Mary. I know, does she need another one? Perhaps Gillingham’s simpering style (stand up for yourself, man!) and unerring patience is wearing a little thin, while all Blake wants to do is discuss the pigs. An older chap might just be the ticket. Yes, he’s old enough to be her dad but she doesn’t need to marry him. All it takes is a few fluttered eyelashes and she’ll have another chap eating out of the palm of her hand. 

Bates has a plan 

We know he’s an accomplished pick-pocket who can forge handwriting and push men in front of buses unseen so maybe series five will see Bates expanding his criminal activities. The perfect way to supplement his annual salary and buy Anna finery and fancy meals out? Picking up a paintbrush (which naturally is another of his skills) and creating forgeries. The perfect person to sell his forgeries too? A visiting art historian who just happens to be passing through the Abbey. 

Downton Abbey will return to ITV later this year