It's getting steamy in the Downton kitchen! New faces have stirred up sexual tension below stairs at the Abbey…and the actors say things are about to REALLY boil over
21:30 GMT, 26 October 2012
What would Downton Abbey be without a good old love tangle
But now that Lady Mary is happily married to Matthew, Lady Edith has embraced life as a spinster and poor too-good-for-this-world Sybil has gone, we have to look for the drama downstairs, where two fresh faces have set the sexual tension simmering like one of Mrs Patmore's soups.
The arrival of beautiful kitchen maid Ivy (Cara Theobold) and dishy footman Jimmy (Ed Speleers) has turned the scullery into a hotbed of secret passion and unrequited love.
Footman Alfred, played by Matt Milne
Kitchen maid Ivy, played by Cara Theobold
Footman Jimmy, played by Ed Speelers
Newly promoted kitchen assistant Daisy (Sophie McShera) is smitten with super-tall footman Alfred (Matt Milne), but Alfred's now fallen for Ivy. Unfortunately, she's got the hots for Jimmy.
Meanwhile nasty valet Thomas (Rob James-Collier) also has his eye on Jimmy, and thinks his feelings might be reciprocated because of the evil machinations of his friend-turned-nemesis O'Brien.
o one knows which way Jimmy will turn – but a snub for Thomas could have 'devastating consequences', one show insider reveals. Phew! It's a wonder they manage to get dinner served.
For Cara Theobold and Ed Speleers, having an audience of 10 million viewers hanging on their every move is something they could only have dreamed about a year ago.
Poor Daisy, played by Sophie McShera, left, and Thomas, played by Rob James-Collier, are not having much luck winning the favour of their respective crushes, Alfred and Jimmy
Ed, 24, whose biggest roles to date have been in fantasy film Eragon and ill-fated soap Echo Beach, says he was amazed to get a part on TV's most popular show.
'When you meet someone like Dame Maggie
Smith there's always an element of nerves. She's such an intelligent
actress and a joy to watch'
'I remember the first time I saw Downton I was instantly hooked,' he says. 'I told my manager, “I'd love to do something like that.”
'I initially auditioned with Jimmy as a cockney but they asked me to make him a Yorkshireman, so I had to work with a dialect coach. I hope my Yorkshire's OK – my grandad was a Yorkshireman so I hope I'm doing him proud.
'Just watching the actors is a treat in itself. I'm really learning from them. When you meet someone like Dame Maggie Smith there's always an element of nerves. She's such an intelligent actress and a joy to watch.
There's love trouble brewing in the kitchen during the third season of Downton Abbey
'As a footman I get to stand around a lot during dinner scenes and it means I can watch and learn from her. She's very composed, she takes her time, that's why every take she does seems so fresh.'
'When I see myself in the mirror I
think I look horrible most of the time,' he says. 'For me it's about the
work, but if people are responding to Jimmy as a character then that's
After just a couple of weeks he's already picked up quite a female-heavy fan club but says bashfully that he hopes people are getting to like him for his acting rather than his looks.
'When I see myself in the mirror I think I look horrible most of the time,' he says. 'For me it's about the work, but if people are responding to Jimmy as a character then that's great.'
Cara, 22, was even more inexperienced when she landed the role of Ivy. 'It's a dream come true, there's no other way to describe it and I'm not sure it will ever sink in,' she says. 'It was my first-ever audition, I came straight out of drama school, so walking on set for the first time was completely surreal. I was a bit nervous about meeting Dame Maggie Smith but she was lovely.
Cara Theobold as Ivy Stewart, left, with cook Mrs Patmore, played by Lesley Nicol
'The downstairs staff do most of our filming at Ealing studios but when I went to Highclere I felt like I'd really made it. I'm lucky I started at the same time as Ed as we're going through the same experience together. Jim Carter, who plays the butler Mr Carson, has taken on a sort of fatherly role and helped us settle in.
'If I could I'd tell Ivy to try and see past Jimmy's looks and realise how nice Alfred is'
'It's mind-blowing really. When I see friends now, instead of wanting to know how I am they say, “How's Downton” It's the most interesting thing about me at the moment.'
Not only has Cara learnt how to make jam and shell peas, she's relishing the challenge of being at the centre of all the intrigue. 'Ivy's very young and naive and not used to being with boys,' she says. 'She has a massive crush on Jimmy and can't see what the viewer can – that Jimmy's not interested. She just thinks if she tries harder then she'll have some luck.'
Daisy has been taking out her bruised ego on Ivy, but Ivy doesn't understand why – or see that she has her own secret admirer, even when Alfred tries to tell her how he feels. Cara says she wishes Ivy would fall for the nice boy.
'When I see myself in the mirror I think I look horrible most of the time – for me it's about the work, but if people are responding to Jimmy as a character then that's great'
'Life's hard enough for her, as kitchen maids are the lowest rung of the ladder and Daisy really bullies her too. She doesn't realise how Alfred feels about her because she's so caught up with Jimmy.
'Matt Milne and I have forged a good
friendship – we're a bit of a Laurel and Hardy act off screen, and there
have been lots of references to a bromance'
'If I could I'd tell Ivy to try and see past Jimmy's looks and realise how nice Alfred is.'
And Ed Speleers promises fireworks are imminent. 'It's all simmering away down there and things will boil over a little bit in the next few weeks,' he says with a grin. 'There's much more to come. There's a nice guessing game going on for both the characters and the viewers at the moment as Jimmy's full of mystery.
'Not too much has unravelled yet and that makes it exciting for the rest of this series and also potentially next year. Every time I get a new script Jimmy's role gets more and more involved.'
Highclere Castle, in Berkshire, where Downton Abbey is filmed
So what about behind the scenes The cast are certainly close, but if the on-screen shenanigans are being replicated in real life, Cara and Ed are keeping it to themselves. Spoilsports. 'We've all become really good friends but there are no romances,' giggles Cara, before adding that she wouldn't tell me even if there were.
'When you're young and starting something new together then you have a great bond,' Ed adds. 'But downstairs is so frenetic there's no time to think about anything other than the job in hand.'
He does, however, let me into one little secret. 'Matt Milne and I have forged a good friendship – we're a bit of a Laurel and Hardy act off screen, and there have been lots of references to a “bromance”. But we're keen to deny them…'
Downton Abbey, Sunday, 9pm, ITV1.