Downton Abbey

Series 6From Sunday 18 October at 19:30

About the show

Love, loss and drama in the 1920s

Historical drama following the lives of the Crawley family.

The acclaimed British drama returns for a sixth and final season of intimately interlaced stories centred on a quintessentially English country estate.

The year is 1925: The aristocracy is on its uppers, and the aristocratic lifestyle of the Grantham’s is starting to seem out of touch. In the first episode, Mary’s past catches up with her when an unwelcome visitor delivers an ultimatum, as secrets and rifts threaten the unity of the family.

Elsewhere, news about the running of Downton Hospital puts Violet on the warpath, while those below stairs find social changes are putting their futures in jeopardy and Daisy's good intentions at the Mallerton House auction have disastrous consequence


Downton Abbey

Robert Crawley

Played by Hugh Bonneville

Born Hugh Richard Bonneville Williams to a nurse mother and urological surgeon father in London in 1963, Hugh’s initial academic calling was spiritual. He studied theology at Cambridge University’s Corpus Christi College before swapping bible matters for stage dramatics and training as an actor at the London’s Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.

He made his professional acting debut bashing a cymbal in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and understudying Ralph Fiennes as Lysander at London’s Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park in 1986, and has gone on to become one of the UK’s leading actors of stage, TV and film.

Hugh has completed seasons with both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his stage highlights include playing Laertes to Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet, Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Bergetto in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Kastril (and later Surly) in The Alchemist. He also gained critical acclaim for performances in Sam Mendes’ Habeas Corpus at London’s Donmar Warehouse and Kevin Spacey’s Cloaca at London’s Old Vic.

Hugh’s prolific feature film career commenced starring alongside Robert De Niro in Kenneth Branagh’s 1994 Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. His other big-screen roles include Bernie in the 1999 Notting Hill, Mr Rushworth in the 1999 Mansfield Park and Young John Bayley in the 2001 Iris. Most recently, Hugh thrilled as Mr Brown in the 2014 blockbuster Paddington alongside Nicole Kidman, Julie Walters and Peter Capaldi.

Hugh is a familiar face to television audiences, having played leading roles in The Cazalets, Take a Girl Like You, Armadillo, Daniel Deronda and The Commander. He also appeared in the Emmy award-winning The Gathering Storm, and played the poet Philip Larkin in Love Again.

Most recently, Hugh is best known for his roles as Ian Fletcher in the comedy Twenty Twelve, and as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham in the period drama series Downton Abbey.

Hugh’s other TV credits range from comedies like The Robinsons, The Vicar of Dibley, Freezing, Rev., Getting On and Mr Stink, to dramas such as Diary of a Nobody, Tsunami: The Aftermath, Miss Austen Regrets, Five Days, Hunter, The Silence and Doctor Who.

Downton Abbey

Cora Crawley

Played by Elizabeth McGovern

Born in Illinois in 1961, Elizabeth McGovern hails from a rather prolific clan. Her paternal grandfather was adventurer William Montgomery McGovern, her maternal great-grandfathers were American diplomat Ethelbert Watts and Admiral Charles P Snyder, her maternal great-great-grandfather was congressman Charles P Snyder and her younger sister is novelist Cammie McGovern.

Elizabeth studied her dramatic craft at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and The Juilliard School in New York City, during which time she landed her first professional feature film role as Jeannine Pratt in Robert Redford’s directorial debut Ordinary People.

After completing her education, Elizabeth took to stages off-Broadway and quickly attracted more film offers. In 1981 she garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of historic chorus girl and model Evelyn Nesbit in Miloš Forman’s acclaimed Ragtime.

Elizabeth’s other big-screen highlights include playing Robert De Niro’s love interest in the 1984 gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America, Mickey Rourke’s girlfriend in Walter Hill’s 1989 crime-drama Johnny Handsome, rebel lesbian Moira in Volker Schlöndorff's 1990 thriller The Handmaid’s Tale and Susan Stringham in Iain Softley’s 1997 period flick The Wings of a Dove.

Aside from her portrayal of Cora Crawley in the hit period-drama series Downton Abbey since 2010, Elizabeth’s other TV credits include Marguerite St Just in the 1999 mini-series The Scarlet Pimpernel, Ellen Doubleday (Daphne du Maurier's paramour) in the 2007 Daphne, and Dame Celia Westholme in the 2008 Agatha Christie's Poirot: Appointment with Death. In 2008, Elizabeth also starred alongside her Downton Abbey hubby, Hugh Bonneville, in the BBC comedy series Freezing.

Unbeknown to many, Elizabeth is a singer-songwriter in her spare time. She fronts Sadie and the Hotheads with her winsome and sultry vocals. The band has released three albums – I Can Wait (2009), How Not to Lose Things (2012) and Still Waiting (2014).

Downton Abbey

Violet Crawley

Played by Maggie Smith

Born to a secretary mother and pathologist father in Essex in 1934, Maggie Smith is one of the UK’s most distinguished actresses, boasting a varied six-decade stage, TV and film career.

She mastered her craft at Oxford Playhouse, and made her professional stage debut in 1952 as Viola in an Oxford University Dramatics Society production of Twelfth Night.

Hot on the heels of performing in the comedy revue New Faces of 1956 on New York’s Broadway, Maggie made her big-screen debut as an uncredited party guest in the 1956 Child in the House, followed by her first credited film role as Bridget Howard in Seth Holt’s 1959 crime-drama Nowhere to Go.

During the 60s, she was revered for her stage work with London’s Royal National Theatre, most notably her 1964 performance of Desdemona to Laurence Olivier’s Othello, roles they revived for film the following year.

Maggie received her first Oscar in 1964 for her portrayal of an idealistic, unorthodox schoolteacher in the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and has gone on to become one of Britain’s most decorated actresses.

Maggie’s other screen highlights include starring roles in the 1993 comedy Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Franco Zeffirelli’s 1999 ensemble drama Tea with Mussolini, Robert Altman’s 2001 period murder-mystery Gosford Park and John Madden’s 2012 comedy-drama The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. She has also commanded the attention of a new generation of cinemagoers playing austere witchcraft teacher Minerva McGonagall in JK Rowling’s series of Harry Potter films.

Since 2010, Maggie has stolen the hearts of TV audience playing the haughty countess of Grantham in the period drama series Downton Abbey.

Maggie has received royal stamps of approval for her serves to the performing arts – she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1990, and Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in 2014.

Downton Abbey

Lady Mary Crawley

Played by Michele Dockery

Born in London in 1981, Michele graduated from Guildford School of Music and Drama in 2004 with her sights firmly set on acting stardom.

She made her professional dramatic debut on at London’s Royal National Theatre as Jessie in the 2004 revival of Nicholas Hytner’s His Dark Materials, and went on to garner a 2006 Ian Charleson Award nomination for her touching portrayal of belittled orphan Dina Dorf in the Ibsen play Pillars of the Community at the same theatre.

Michele’s other stage highlights include playing Eliza Doolittle in the 2007 London revival of Pygmalion, for which she received an Evening Standard Award nomination, and her portrayal of Maroussia in the 2009 stage adaptation of Burnt by the Sun, a role that earned her an Olivier Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress

Michele’s first foray into small-screen acting was in Sarah Waters’ 2005 mini-series Fingersmith. She went on to build her TV profile starring in such roles as Susan Sto Helit in the 2006 adaptation of Terry Pratchett's novel Hogfather, tormented rape victim Gemma Morrison in a 2008 episode of crime-drama Waking the Dead and governess Ann in the 2009 BBC adaptation of Henry James’ gothic horror The Turn of the Screw. In 2010, Michele became a household name starring as Lady Mary Crawley in Julian Fellowes' hit period-drama series Downton Abbey.

Michele’s big-screen career has also gained speedy momentum. Since her film debut as False Marissa alongside Cate Blanchett in the 2011 Hanna, she has starred as Princess Myagkaya in the 2012 Anna Karenina, and appeared alongside Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in the 2014 thriller Non-Stop.

Like her Downton Abbey mother Elizabeth McGovern, Michele has singing talent. She occasionally provides guest vocals for McGovern’s band Sadie and the Hotheads, and performed at the 50th Anniversary of Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London.

Downton Abbey

Lady Edith Crawley

Played by Laura Carmichael

Born to a radiographer mother and software consultant father in the city of Southampton in 1986, Laura mastered her thespian craft at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Graduating in 2007, she becoming a household name through her first professional engagement as Lady Elizabeth Crawley in Downton Abbey, a role she has played since 2010.

In 2011, Laura made her big-screen debut starring as Sal alongside Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt and Benedict Cumberbatch in Tomas Alfredson’s blockbuster Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. She has since celebrated a victorious run as Sonya alongside Anna Friel and Samuel West in Chekov’s Uncle Vanya at London’s Vaudeville Theatre in 2012, and portrayed Henrietta in Sophie Barthes’ 2014 flick Madame Bovary.

Not unlike her Downton Abbey family, Laura’s real-life clan are familiar with castle dwelling. Her great-grandfather, wealthy company director James Carmichael, purchased Cave Castle near Hull in 1925. Enrolled as a temporary lieutenant in the Yorkshire Light Infantry, James opened the doors of Cave Castle as an army officers’ headquarters and mess during World War Two, with makeshift barracks erected in the 150-acre grounds to house soldiers wounded in battle. The Jacobean building was later converted into a country club to attract the higher echelons of Yorkshire society. It has since been sold and is now a country house hotel.

Downton Abbey

Isobel Crawley

Played by Penelope Wilton

Born in Scarborough, Yorkshire in 1946, Penelope has entertainment in her blood. Her mother was a tap dancer and actress, she is the niece of acclaimed thespian siblings Bill and Linden Travers, cousin of actor Richard Morant and her maternal grandparents owned theatres.

After graduating from the Drama Centre London, Penelope enjoyed a successful stage career before being rocketed to national fame in 1984 starring alongside Richard Briers in the sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles. Penelope’s other TV highlights include returning guest appearances in Doctor Who as the uncompromising Prime Minister Harriet Jones (a role written especially for her by the show’s chief writer and executive producer Russell T Davies), and portraying Mary in the 2008 BBC biblical series The Passion. Since 2010, Penelope is acclaimed for playing liberal Isobel Crawley in the hit period drama series Downton Abbey.

Penelope also boasts an impressive big-screen CV, including prominent roles in The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Cry Freedom (1987), Iris (2001), Calendar Girls (2003), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Pride and Prejudice (2005), Match Point (2005) and The History Boys (2006).

In 2004, Penelope was appointed an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to drama.

Downton Abbey

Charles Carson

Played by Jim Carter

Born in Harrogate, North Yorkshire in 1948, veteran thespian Jim Carter took an unorthodox route to his craft. He pretty much acquired his dramatic skills on the job after dropping out of a law degree to join the Brighton Combination fringe theatre group, and he’s never looked back. His first role was in Howard Brenton’s play Gum and Goo in 1969, for which he was paid £5 a week, with board and lodgings thrown in.

In the decades that followed, Jim scaled the heights of his profession by joining the ranks of the prolific Young Vic Company, National Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was cast in everything from Richard Eyre's 1982 National Theatre revival of Guys and Dolls (which co-starred his future wife, Imelda Staunton), to Simon Callow’s 1986 production of Cocteau's The Infernal Machine at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith and the RSC’s acclaimed 1987 production of The Wizard of Oz at London’s Barbican Theatre.

Jim’s TV career was launched in 1980 playing Cliff Ryan in Fox, a drama series based around the lives and times of a family with gangland connections. Since 2010, he is most revered for his portrayal of Mr Carson, butler and ultimate arbiter of correct behaviour, in the hit period drama Downton Abbey.

In his spare time, Jim is chairman of his local Hampstead Cricket Club and an avid cyclist who frequently rides for charity. In 2011, he cycled for six days across Ghana to raise money for clean water for the impoverished town of Tafo.

Downton Abbey

Mrs Hughes

Played by Phyllis Logan

Born in Paisley, Scotland in 1956, Phyllis spent two years honing her craft with Dundee Repertory Theatre after graduating from the esteemed Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

She gained her big professional acting break starring as Janie in Michael Radford’s 1983 debut feature film Another Time, Another Place. The role earned her a Gold Award for Best Actress at the Taormina Film Festival, an Evening Standard Award for Best Actress and a BAFTA Award for Most Outstanding Newcomer to Film.

Phyllis’ subsequent film credits include providing the broadcast voice of Ingsoc in Michael Radford’s film of George Orwell’s 1984, voicing Nessie in the 1992 animated movie Freddie as F.R.O.7, and her heart-wrenching portrayal of the tragic Monica Purley in Mike Leigh’s 1996 BAFTA-winning Secrets and Lies.

Highlights from Phyllis’ TV career include playing Lady Jane Felsham for seven years from 1986 in the hit comedy-drama series Lovejoy, and deputy head Annie Gilbert in the 1999 school drama series Hope and Glory. Since 2010, Phyllis is best known for her role as prim and stern housekeeper Mrs Hughes in the period-drama series Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey

Anna Bates

Played by Joanne Froggatt

Born in the village of Littlebeck in North Yorkshire to shop owner and sheep breeder parents in 1980, Joanne followed her passion for acting by studying drama at Redroofs School for the Performing Arts in Berkshire at the tender age of 13.

She stepped into the TV spotlight with a cameo role in the long-running crime-drama series The Bill in 1996, and shot to national fame in 1997 playing troubled single mum Zoe Tattersall in the popular British soap Coronation Street.

Joanne’s other notable TV credits include playing child-killer Myra Hindley’s sister in the 2006 mini-series See No Evil: The Moors Murders, peasant Kate in the 2009 series Robin Hood, and guesting as Antony Royle’s girlfriend Saskia in the 2010 Christmas Special of Caroline Aherne’s cult sitcom The Royle Family. Since 2010, Joanne is best known for playing maid Anna in the period drama series Downton Abbey.

Joanne made her big-screen debut as Suzy – a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – in the 2010 Our Name. The role won her Best Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards. She also starred as Detective Inspector Sarah Clayton in Andrew Douglas’ 2013 thriller uwantme2killhim?.

In 2013, Joanne became an ambassador for Plan UK’s ‘Because I am a Girl’, a global charity campaign dedicated to empowering woman through education, skills, livelihoods and protection.

Downton Abbey

Mrs Patmore

Played by Lesley Nicol

Born to a Scottish GP father and Welsh actress mother in the small town of Irlam in Lancashire in 1953, Lesley’s love of performing arts prompted her to beg for a £1-a-week job a Manchester’s Library Theatre while studying A levels. The experience propelled her desire to become an actress, and she went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Her professional career commenced singing her way round UK theatres in the original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, and became a star of London’s West End musical scene with a three-year run performing Rosie in Mamma Mia! from 2000.

Lesley’s noteworthy screen credits include roles as Mrs Beaver in the 1988 BBC adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Queen Giant in the 1990 The Silver Chair and Auntie Annie in Ayub Khan-Din’s 1999 East is East and 2010 sequel West is West. Since 2010, Lesley is best known for playing bumbling cook Mrs Patmore in Julian Fellowes’ period-drama series Downton Abbey.

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