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DOWNTON ABBEY

On page 35 of our August issue we warned you to get ready because Downton Abbey is about to do a House of Cards! Season three starts on Sunday 11 August at 9pm on channel 120 on DSTV. But not before they’ve broadcast the entire first and second seasons, starting at 9:30am on Saturday 10 August!

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Before you tune in to the upstairs and downstairs loves and lives at Downton Abbey this weekend, we’ve got an exclusive interview with Thomas Barrow, the under-handed, villainous valet of Robert.

Unlikely as it may seem, this could be the series when viewers learn not to hate but to love first footman Thomas Barrow. Or at least the actor Rob James-Collier thinks so:

‘At the end of the last series he lost everything on the black market. People saw a moment of vulnerability in him. Yes it was his own fault - he was doing something illegal – but some viewers felt sorry for him. This series he’s horribly misled, he lets someone into his heart and his life is hugely affected. When he goes on this journey I hope that people will empathise with him – perhaps even feel a little sympathy with him’ says Rob.

After two series of skulduggery in partnership with the fiendish lady’s maid O’Brien, this time round Thomas finds himself at odds with her.

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‘O’Brien’s nephew Alfred comes on the scene. He’s young, he gets the job done and he’s promoted to footman straight away. Thomas sees that as a threat - he sees him as getting the special treatment that he has never had in life. Or at least that’s what’s in his head, because he’s always been an outsider and a loner with his sexuality.’

O’Brien has done everything to get her nephew in the house - and all of a sudden this woman who was always on his side is now helping someone else. Thomas gets jealous, and we should know by now that hell hath no fury like a footman scorned.

‘He thought he and O’Brien had a special relationship. Everything was fine until the nephew comes along so he tries what he tried with Bates in series one – eliminate the problem by hook or by crook.’

It sets off a vicious circle.

‘O’Brien works out what Thomas is up to and thinks, “Okay, if you're coming for my family then I’m coming for you”’.

The irony is that off camera James-Collier and Siobhan Finneran, who plays O’Brien, are close friends. But on screen their mutual conniving is about to turn into a rancorous spat. And James-Collier is under no illusions about which character possesses the greater resources.

‘Oh, she’s always the cleverest. Always. All through series one and two anything they did that was mischievous was O’Brien’s idea. He goes up against her and that’s a big mistake – he’s not as clever as she is and he never will be.’

But for James-Collier it gives him some of his best scenes yet.

‘O’Brien and Thomas at loggerheads is genuinely brilliant.’

We can’t wait! Can you? Tell us what you’re most looking forward to seeing in season 3 of Downton Abbey by leaving a comment below.

IMAGE CREDITS © 2012 Carnival Film & Television Limited. All Rights Reserved

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