Julian Ovenden: Being in Downton Abbey is like walking a tightrope

The star of the ITV drama talks action films, singing carols and whether Charles Blake and Lady Mary are destined to be together

Julian Ovenden stars in Downton Abbey as Charles Blake, one of the many men who has been vying for Lady Mary’s affections since series four.


Though Ovenden states he’s tried to avoid any of the Team Blake v Team Gillingham debate “at all costs”, with only one episode left in series five, we can’t help but wonder if the time has come for some romantic conclusions…

“I think [Mary and Blake] have more in common than her and Gillingham do. They are quite similar characters actually. Whether that means anything I couldn’t possibly say,” he teases.

He chuckles when we ask him if there is a lot of drama to come in the final episode, reminding us that there is a Christmas special to look forward too as well.

“Expect something a little bit different,” he says, hinting at a feature-length episode full of falling snowflakes and carols around the Christmas tree: “I don’t want to give anything away but there might be…”

Whether or not his romance with Lady Mary will be resolved, Ovenden would “absolutely” like to be involved in a potential sixth series: “It’s always a bit of a tightrope walk. You never really know what’s happening next but it’s always enjoyable and it’s great to be part of such a successful show.”

That said, he’s recently swapped the formality of afternoon tea and dinner jackets – “there are loads of rules that you’d never think about: who should go into a room first, how long to shake hands for” – for “hand grenades, German tanks and all that kind of stuff” in new war film Allies.

Allies, also starring Matt Willis, Franck Leboeuf, and Chris Reilly, follows an American officer (Ovenden) as he leads an undercover allied mission into occupied France. “It was quite fun. It was a nice contrast to be honest,” he tells us, adding: “[There were] quite a lot of stunts, a lot of fighting and firing guns. The kind of stuff that my five-year-old son would love to do. It was a bit like playing with toys.”

And he didn’t mind the change of scenery one bit. “I like variety. I think it keeps your work fresh and your mind engaged. I aways worry about getting stale as a performer so it’s really nice to do different things. And I’ve never really done something like this – a war film which is really quite action-based. It demanded different things of me.”

Julian Ovenden stars in Allies, available on DVD and on demand from 3rd November 


Downton Abbey concludes on Sunday at 9:00pm on ITV