Free Anna Bates… from a repetitive Downton Abbey storyline

Julian Fellowes is guilty of letting history repeat itself, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

Is it just me who had a spot of déjà vu during this evening’s Downton Abbey?


The series five finale saw history repeat itself when a Bates was arrested on suspicion of murder. AGAIN.

Lovely, sweet Anna Bates – who has been caught up in the criminal investigation into Mr Green’s suspicious death since the start of the series – was handcuffed and led away from the Grantham’s house in London after being unceremoniously plucked out of a police line-up.

As we all know, it’s not the first time a Bates has been clapped in irons. Her husband Mr Bates was investigated, arrested and eventually convicted of the murder of his ex-wife Vera back in series two before escaping the death sentence and being released from prison a series later. Now it seems Anna faces almost exactly the same fate.

Couldn’t anyone think of a better plot line? Has Julian Fellowes run out of inspiration?

Another wrongful arrest is repetitive, boring and unimaginative. We don’t need to see another Bates suffer in jail –and we also don’t want to. Over the last five seasons, Anna and Bates have been through enough. Can’t we just let them be happy for a change?

Fellowes, unlike the man from Del Monte, says no. It’s not enough that Bates was arrested for a murder he didn’t commit; his wife has to be as well. It’s unrealistic, too (at least I sincerely hope the odds of being arrested and convicted for crimes you didn’t commit are lower in real life than for the unfortunates who reside at Downton Abbey).

Of course there’s a chance that Anna really did push her rapist under that double decker. She hasn’t actually offered up an alibi for that fateful day…

If the Christmas special and series six do see Anna holed up behind bars, there is a silver lining. All those who were up in arms about Downton’s original murder plot can get another lease of life out of their Free Bates merchandise.

Time to dig out that t-shirt again…


Downton Abbey will return for a Christmas special in December