Christmas period drama launched at Dublin store


ALLEN LEECH, the Irish star of the hugely popular period drama Downton Abbey, has said he is amazed at how well the drama has done but has no secrets to spill about the fourth series.

The third series of the ITV drama, in which the Killiney-born actor plays a chauffeur-turned- journalist Tom Branson, concludes tomorrow evening.

“I’m obviously delighted that my role went up a lot this year. I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said.

Leech was unable to shed any light on what might happen in the next season of Downton. “We haven’t even been commissioned yet, we’d all love to go back. I think he [Julian Fellowes, the creator] always planned for it to be five series. I think there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up and I don’t think Branson’s have been tied up yet. I’d be very hopeful to go back,” he said.

Leech flew into Dublin yesterday to launch the Christmas season at Brown Thomas. The store has been inspired by the TV series and each window features a winter scene from the 1920s. Indoors, 1920s flappers or “Deco Belles” – inspired by the art-deco period – will help shoppers with their Christmas wrapping.

Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Leech’s onscreen wife, Lady Sybil, is filming Winter’s Tale with Colin Farrell in New York. “She’s gone from one Irishman to another,” Leech quipped.

Leech found the shooting of Lady Sybil’s death emotional. “We did it over two days and it was really tough. It was also very sad, it was saying goodbye to a person I started the show with and was on this whole journey with and it was sad that we’re not going to end it together. I know that a lot of the emotions were very raw in it given the fact that we were saying goodbye to someone who was part of that family.”

Working with babies is no bother to Leech on set or off. His sister, Ali Leech, gave birth 10 weeks ago to baby Isobel, who was in Brown Thomas yesterday. He said that, on screen, baby Sybil was played by two babies. “Once one cries, they . . . put the other one in. They feed them on different cycles as well. They have it down to a fine art.”

He is undaunted by playing a rebellious Irish character. “One thing you don’t want to do is to play it stereotypical. It’s been a real challenge and I loved it.”