Jim Carter on Carson’s Downton Abbey romance with Mrs Hughes: “Tortoises have mated quicker”

With the final series almost upon us, Mr Carter and co-star Phyllis Logan reflect on their sunset romance

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Forget Lady Mary and her cadre of suitors, the real romance at the heart of Downton Abbey is between Carson the Butler and Mrs Hughes the housekeeper. We’ve waited years for these two crazy kids to get over themselves and get together, and we’re not the only ones.

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“It took six years but we got there,” actor Jim Carter told the Edinburgh International Television Festival, “Tortoises have mated quicker.”

“It’s been lovely. Julian [Fellowes] has really teased it out, because in reality butlers and house keepers didn’t get married. He’s played a very fine line in drawing this late blossoming romance out, and from the reaction from people, they’re all rooting for Carson and Mrs Hughes.”

Carnival Films managing director Gareth Neame agreed, saying the relationship grew naturally over the course of the series. “We enjoyed the chemistry of Phylis and Jim, but there wasn’t a particular plan they’d get married. I don’t think we made a final decision until three years in, we thought if we don’t do this the audience are going to be absolutely devastated.”

True, whereas now we’ll just be devastated when the show ends.

Phylis Logan, what do you think?

“As an Edinburgh audience will know, sex is something you carry the coal in.”

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Confused? Put on a Mrs Hughes accent and say it. We love you Mrs Hughes.