The real Countess of Downton Abbey on the show “exploring darker themes”

Lady Carnarvon gives her verdict on Julian Fellowes' decision to include the rape of Anna in Sunday's programme

Following the shocking scenes during Sunday night’s episode of Downton Abbey, and the subsequent outrage from many of his viewers, show creator Julian Fellowes must be feeling the heat ahead of next week’s broadcast.

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The decision to include “violent scenes” in what has been known until now as a family drama has caused many fans to swear off their favourite programme, a reaction Fellowes will be eagerly tracking, according to real-life Countess of Downton Abbey, Lady Carnarvon.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Fiona Carnarvon admitted she hadn’t watched the episode but had seen some of it on paper and “gathered what was in it.”

When RadioTimes.com asked whether she thought the issue of rape should have been explored in Downton, Lady Carnarvon said, “I’d imagine that Julian’s exploring different storylines and exploring darker themes as well and that’s completely his choice and he will also watch the reaction to see where he takes stories in the future.”

Speaking of her own taste, she admitted to a preference for more light-hearted material towards the end of the weekend. “I prefer looking at nice things on Sunday night but that’s just me – I like the Cinderella stories, Pretty Woman, Notting Hill – all the nice things in life, particularly on a Sunday evening.

During a talk to promote her new book, Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey, the current resident of Highclere Castle also admitted to wooing Julian Fellowes and the production team with “good food and good wine” and said she didn’t hang around watching filming “because it’s gone on for years now and it’s a bit like watching paint dry.”

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@RadioTimes