Skip to main content
  1. AXS Entertainment
  2. Arts & Entertainment
  3. TV

'Downton Abbey' chooses life as PBS debuts fourth season

See also

The Emmy winning period drama "Downton Abbey," by Sir Julian Fellowes, returned for its fourth season of dramatics on Jan. 5, 2014 PBS Masterpiece Theater. The season opener reintroduced the family and a dizzying array of storylines about life in the English Country Manor known a "Downton Abbey." Attached is a list of pictures from the season four premiere, along with a brief explanation of what the characters are up to as the series opens.

The season opened caught up with the Crawleys and their staff in 1922, six months after the sudden death of heir Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), which left Lady Mary a widow with an infant heir.

Upstairs, The Crawley family reacted to their family changes, as bumbling Earl of Grantham Lord Robert (Hugh Bonneville) relished sole control of Downton but was foiled by a hidden will, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) mourned the death of her beloved husband, Lady Isobel (Penelope Wilton) mourned the death of her only son, widower Tom Branson (Allen Leech) took new responsibilities on the estate, dowager Lady Violet (Maggie Smith) gave sagely clever advice, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) behaved scandalously with her married lover Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards), Lady Rose (Lily James) created Jazz Age chaos and Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) made inexplicably poor decisions about the staff.

Downstairs was just as dramatic, as Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) avoided his past, Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) interferred, Thomas Barrow returned to troublemaking, deceptive maid Edna (Myanna Buring) got rehired and even promoted and Moseley struggled with unemployment and debt.

Happily married servants Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates (Brendan Coyle) became targets for troublemaking duo Thomas Barrow (Rob James Collier) and Edna. The downstairs love quadrangle continued, with Daisy (Sophie McShera) pining for Alfred (Matt Milne), who was infatuated by Ivy (Cara Theobald), who was pursued by Jimmy (Ed Speleers). Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) tried to lift Daisy's spirits with an anonymous Valentine, while fearing redundancy due a new mixer in the kitchen.

Three major cast members from season three departed, causing shuffling upstairs and downstairs. Lady Sybil Crawley (Jessica Brown Findlay) died in childbirth, leaving Tom Branson a widower. Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) died in a a car accident in the season three finale, leaving Lady Mary a widow and mother. Lady's maid O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran) absconded in the middle of the night to take a more glamourous position.

The ensemble cast of "Downton Abbey" includes: Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham; Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley; Jim Carter as Mr. Carson; Brendan Coyle as John Bates; Myanna Buring as Edna; Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley; Kevin Doyle as Molesley; Charles Edwards as Michael Gregson; Joanne Froggatt as Anna; Lily James as Lady Rose McClare; Rob James-Collier as Thomas Barrow; Allen Leech as Tom Branson; Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes; Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham; Sophie McShera as Daisy; Matt Milne as Alfred Nugent; Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore; David Robb as Dr. Clarkson; Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham; Ed Speleers as Jimmy Kent; Cara Theobald as Ivy Stuart; and Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley.

The series has already aired in Great Britain, so spoilers are easy to find for those who seek them.

Downton Abbey gears up for season four finale

Downton Abbey wins six Emmys for PBS 2011

PBS Emmy nods led by Downton Abbey -2013

Cast of Downton Abbey wins SAG Award for dramatic acting 2013

Picture of the ladies of Downton Abbey
Picture of the ladies of Downton Abbey ©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of the ladies of Downton Abbey

The ladies of the manor are Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael). Lady Cora, Countess of Grantham is the wife of Lord Robert, the Earl of Grantham, and the mother of Lady Mary and Lady Edith. Downton Abbey is a Masterpiece Theater presentation on PBS. 

Picture of Dame Maggie Smith as Lady Violet on Downton Abbey
Picture of Dame Maggie Smith as Lady Violet on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Dame Maggie Smith as Lady Violet on Downton Abbey

Dowager Countess Lady Violet (Maggie Smith) guides her family with witty bon mots and wry one liners in Downton Abbey. Lady Violet encouraged granddaughter Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) to choose life and get back to the living.  Without his mother's guidance, Lord Robert (Hugh Bonneville) may have succumbed to the temptation to throw Matthew's letter, leaving his inheritance to Lady Mary, into the burning fireplace. Lady Violet also showed compassion for Moseley's unemployment situation and tried to procure another position for him. When that plan failed, she provided Bates with money to pass along to ease Moseley's debt burden, under the guise of repaying a debt, to save Moseley's pride. 

Picture of Hugh Bonneville as Lord Robert in Downton Abbey
Picture of Hugh Bonneville as Lord Robert in Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Hugh Bonneville as Lord Robert in Downton Abbey

Earl of Grantham, Lord Robert (Hugh Bonneville) has difficulty accepting change. After all, the status quo has been good to the lord of the manor, as it favored wealthy males. Lord Robert was tempted to toss away Matthew's letter, making Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) his sole heir, and he probably could have gotten away with the deception. What stopped him? Possibly his sense of integrity and honor,  along with some strong words from his mother Lady Violet (Maggie Smith). Lord Robert was not so honorable in dealing with his staff. He took trouble-making Barrow's word that Anna (Joanne Froggatt) did dirt to deceptive new lady's maid Edna.  He should know by now that Barrow is a liar, but he blindly accepted that loyal Anna was suddenly a jealous shrew and rather than letting Carson (Jim Carter) handle the problem he took his valet Bates (Brendan Coyle) to task for his wife's alleged bad behavior. What a bumbling baffoon. 

Picture of Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary on Downton Abbey
Picture of Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary on Downton Abbey

Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) mourns the sudden death of her beloved husband Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) by wearing exquisite black gowns and doubting her mothering ability. It is only six months since the death of her husband, so her depression is understandable. She gets shaken out of some of her doldrums with loving counsel from Lady Violet (Maggie Smith) and Carson. It helps that a hidden letter reveals that Matthew intended to make her his sole heir. Luckily, Lord Robert (Hugh Bonneville) did not burn the letter, although he was tempted to hide its existance so he could control the estate in behalf of his grandson, baby George. Lady Mary rallies to join the living and starts wearing lavender and takes an interest in managing the estate, with the help of her brother-in-law Tom Branson ( Allen Leech).

Picture of Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora on Downton Abbey
Picture of Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora on Downton Abbey

Lady Cora (Elizabth McGovern) demonstrated why she should leave the management of the staff to the professionals, like Carson (Jim Carter) and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan). The Countess of Grantham was manipulated by evil butler Thomas Barrow, who told lies about the new nanny and Lady Mary's Lady's Maid Anna. It turned out that Barrow was right about the bad nanny, albeit accidentally, and the nanny was summarily fired by Lady Cora.  Poor Anna was blamed for ruining a favorite dress (or scarf),  which was really the fault of Lady Cora's new lady's maid Edna. who had previously been fired by Mrs. Hughes for making advances on Tom Branson. Too bad that solf-hearted Branson asked Mrs. Hughes to write a good recommendation for Edna, because she used the letter to wrangle her way back into the household, with a promotion to boot.  Was it realistic for Lady Cora to go to a coffee shop to interview her own lady's maid and hire her without double checking with Mrs. Hughes? Probably not, but employers are duped by deceptive employess all the time, even today. 

Picture of Lady Mary and Tom Branson on Downton Abbey
Picture of Lady Mary and Tom Branson on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Lady Mary and Tom Branson on Downton Abbey

Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and her brother-in-law Tom Branson Allen Leech) come from different worlds, but they have a lot in common. Tom used to be the chauffeur, but he married Mary's sister Lady Sybil, who died in childbirth, leaving him a widower and single father. Lady Mary became widow and single mother when her beloved husband Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) was killed in a car accident. The two become allies in running the estate, along with Mary's father, Lord Robert, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), who stubbornly resists change. Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Picture of Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary with her infant
Picture of Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary with her infant PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary with her infant

Lady Mary Crawley started to crawl out of her depression when a lost letter of intent showed that Matthew Crawley intended to make her hs sole heir. The brittle ice princess started to wear the mantle of responsiblity, and take an interest in running the estate, along with her father. As a wealthy young widow, Mary is suddenly very eligible and desirable, so suitors are bound to come running. Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change. Meanwhile, the staff takes care of baby George, which was typical in the Edwardian era. 

Picture of Lady Edith on Downton Abbey
Picture of Lady Edith on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Lady Edith on Downton Abbey

Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) is historically unlucky in love...remember when he was left at the altar? When she took an interest in becoming a writer, she happened upon a handsome publisher. The attraction was mutual, but he was a  married man with an institionalized wife. Lady Edith looked quite stunning in a daring sleeveless green gown with a high slit  revealing her leg. Lady Edith could do better, but not as long as she meets up for illicit assignations in London. 

Picture of Lady Edith with her married lover on Downton Abbey
Picture of Lady Edith with her married lover on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Lady Edith with her married lover on Downton Abbey

Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) meets up with her married lover Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards) in London. He wants to divorce his insane wife and marry Edith, but the law in Great Britain does not allow the divorce. He plots to become a German citizen so he can obtain a divorce, which is a risky move in the post WWI year of 1922.  Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Picture of Lady Edith in London on Downton Abbey
Picture of Lady Edith in London on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Lady Edith in London on Downton Abbey

Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) becomes a modern woman and has an illicit assignation with her married lover Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards)  in London. Someone should warn Lady Edith that this type of wanton behavior often has unhappy consequences, especially in the Edwardian Era. 

Picture of Lady Rose on Downton Abbey
Picture of Lady Rose on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Lady Rose on Downton Abbey

Cousin Rose (Lily James) is a young lady living at Downton Abbey while her parents travel to India. Lady Rose is the niece and godchild of dowager Countess Lady Violet (Maggie Smith).  Rose is supposed to be preparing for her coming out into society, but instead she is playing with the common folk at a jazz club. She takes poor Anna (Joanne Froggatt) along as a chaperone and they get caught by Jimmy (Ed Speleers). The party breaks up when two young men break out in a fight over the young lady, whom they assume is a housemaid, since a high-born woman would not be seen in such a place.

Picture of Daisy in Downton Abbey
Picture of Daisy in Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Daisy in Downton Abbey

Kitchen maid Daisy (Sophie McShera) is still in love with Alfred, but his eyes are on Ivy. Daisy gets excited when she gets an anonymous Valentine and wonders who sent the card. Daisy is set to inherit a farm, so she could be a good catch.  

Picture of Lady Mary and ladies maid Anna on Downton Abbey
Picture of Lady Mary and ladies maid Anna on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Lady Mary and ladies maid Anna on Downton Abbey

Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and her maid Anna (Joanne Froggatt) have an unually close relationship. Lady Mary does not know that her father, Lord Robert (Hugh Bonneville), accused Anna of bad behavior with Edna. It would make for a fun confrontation if word got back. 

Picture of Tom Branson with daughter Sybil
Picture of Tom Branson with daughter Sybil PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Tom Branson with daughter Sybil

Tom Branson (Allen Leech) used to be the chauffeur, but thanks to his marriage to Lady Sybil, he lives upstairs. Since Matthew's death, Branson has taken on more responsibility for running the estate.  Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Picture of Lady Mary with the nanny
Picture of Lady Mary with the nanny PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Lady Mary with the nanny

Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) holds her baby, which the nanny watches. The nanny came out on the wrong side of a power struggle with Barrow and was swiftly fired by Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern).  Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Picture of Lady Edith in London
Picture of Lady Edith in London PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Lady Edith in London

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith in London as she meets her married lover. Downton Abbey season/series four, episode one on PBS Masterpiece Theater. The Emmy winning ensemble series returns with Edwardian era melodrama by Sir Julian Fellowes. Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Picture of Downton Abbey kitchen
Picture of Downton Abbey kitchen PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Downton Abbey kitchen

Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore and Sophie McShera as Daisy Mason. Downton Abbey season/series four, episode one on PBS Masterpiece Theater. The Emmy winning ensemble series returns with Edwardian era melodrama by Sir Julian Fellowes. Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Picture of kitchen maid Ivy on Downton Abbey
Picture of kitchen maid Ivy on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of kitchen maid Ivy on Downton Abbey

Cara Theobold as Ivy. Downton Abbey season/series four, episode one on PBS Masterpiece Theater. The Emmy winning ensemble series returns with Edwardian era melodrama by Sir Julian Fellowes. Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Picture of the male staff at Downton Abbey
Picture of the male staff at Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of the male staff at Downton Abbey

Matt Milne as Alfred Nugent; Ed Speleers as Jimmy Kent; Jim Carter as Mr. Carson; and Rob James-Collier as Thomas Barrow. Downton Abbey season/series four, episode one on PBS Masterpiece Theater. The Emmy winning ensemble series returns with Edwardian era melodrama by Sir Julian Fellowes. Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Picture of Jim Carter as Mr. Carson on Downton Abbey
Picture of Jim Carter as Mr. Carson on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Jim Carter as Mr. Carson on Downton Abbey

Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) runs the staff at Downton rt. Carson is a loyal servant who adores the Crawley family and serves them well. An unwelcome crony from his past vaudeville days appeared, reminding Carson of days he would rather forget and a lost love. 

Picture of jazz singer on Downton Abbey
Picture of jazz singer on Downton Abbey PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of jazz singer on Downton Abbey

Gary Carr joins the series this season as Jack Ross, a jazz singer, later in the season. Downton Abbey season/series four, episode one on PBS Masterpiece Theater. The Emmy winning ensemble series returns with Edwardian era melodrama by Sir Julian Fellowes. Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Picture of Downton Abbey character on PBS
Picture of Downton Abbey character on PBS PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Picture of Downton Abbey character on PBS

Downton Abbey season/series four, episode one on PBS Masterpiece Theater. The Emmy winning ensemble series returns with Edwardian era melodrama by Sir Julian Fellowes. Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Photo from Downton Abbey on PBS
Photo from Downton Abbey on PBS PBS©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Photo from Downton Abbey on PBS

Downton Abbey season/series four, episode one on PBS Masterpiece Theater. The Emmy winning ensemble series returns with Edwardian era melodrama by Sir Julian Fellowes. Downton Abbey tells the story of life at an English country manor during a time of societal change.

Advertisement