Downton Abbey: Allen Leech set to leave during Christmas special

Tom Branson revealed plans to swap Downton Abbey for the American dream at the end of the festive episode

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Downton Abbey fans are poised to say goodbye to yet another familiar face in this year’s Christmas special. 

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Long running cast member Allen Leech, who has starred in Downton since the fourth episode, might be bidding farewell to the period drama for good after his character Tom Branson revealed plans to leave the Abbey.

Branson has been debating the idea for a while, to-ing and fro-ing about whether he should up sticks and start a new life with his little daughter Sybbie. But tonight’s series five finale saw him confirm his intentions to leave the Crawleys after Christmas and go in search of the American dream. 

It’s a sad prospect, but if Leech (who recently starred alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game) does leave Downton Abbey this December, fans can take comfort in the news that his parting won’t be as traumatic as that of Dan Stevens in the 2012 Christmas special.

Stevens’ character Matthew Crawley died in the closing scenes of the festive episode in a shock car crash just moments after his son was born, ending plenty of Christmas Days on a sour note. When, and if, Branson leaves the Abbey we’re sure creator Julian Fellowes will give his departure a much happier, hopeful spin. 

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Downton Abbey returns for a Christmas special later this year