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‘Downton Abbey’ Creator Julian Fellowes Considering Adding Black Characters To Hit Series

'Downton Abbey' Creator Julian Fellowes Considering Adding Black Characters To Hit Series

This might be the very first time we’ve ever written anything about Downton Abbey on this website, and I’m sure you can figure out why.

But we just may be talking about the hit British period soap opera created by Julian Fellowes (it’s a hit with American audiences now as well, as we await the start of the new season here in the USA).

Why? Well… take a guess!

Here’s an excerpt from an interview the director gave to the UK’s Telegraph, posted on their website this morning:

It has already tackled weighty issues including the Great War, miscarriages of justice and homosexuality, but Downton Abbey could now turn its focus to race relations and multiculturalism. Julian Fellowes, the TV show’s creator, said that he would like to introduce black or Indian characters into the programme. When asked about criticism in some quarters that Downton Abbey, which concluded its third series on ITV last night, does not contain any black characters, the writer said it would be “rather nice to open it up ethnically a bit”.

Fellowes added that he thought it would be a good idea to do so, but he’d have to ensure that the representations are historically credible, and he was sure they could make it work.

However, the show, which ended its 3rd season/series in the UK over the weekend, still has to be renewed for a 4th, before Fellowes can begin thinking about writing in new black or Indian characters.

And as for whether that would happen, he said:

“I would hope [there will be more] because of the response to this series, but you know [ITV] are always pretty close to their chest in terms of an actual commission. But I think I’d be surprised if there was not a fourth series,” he said.

Season 3 on ITV ended with a ratings season-high – a seaon that the network said was the highest-rated of the show to-date.

However, USA fans will have to wait until January 2013 before they’ll get to see season 3’s episodes… minus any black characters though.

So, fans of Downton – thoughts on black characters being introduced??

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Is Fellowes trying to imply that next season may be DA's last? (LOL). That is usually the direction these shows go toward when they begin to 'integrate' the cast. Forget about the fact that West Indians and South Asians have fought in their wars and worked in their factories…and as subjects of the Commonwealth, laboured on behalf of the so called 'Motherland'. 9 times out of 10 when one of these historical dramas (the new version of Upstairs/Downstairs which is seen as a lower version of DA, excluded) begins to add 'colour', it usually means the series is headed toward the finish. We shall see in due time, though.

Charles Judson

So are we busting on a show that's set in 1920s UK for not including characters of color or busting on it because it now might? I get confused. Does EVERYTHING have to be read as patronizing to us? Does our absence have to be read as calculated exclusion or callous indifference? Is no one curious about HOW the addition of an Indian or black character would or could be handled, or what the possibilities are? I'm not up on my history of blacks and Africans in 1920s U.K. From a writer's perspective I'd be interested in hearing about what could be explored. The U.S. side had the Harlem Renaissance, the rise of the NAACP, the Great Migration, and the emergence of figures like Paul Robeson just to start. The U.K. surely has a lot that can be mined from that time period. Especially if they jump to the 1930s. Rise of Fascism and Communism and holier than thou folks spouting God and County, the irony writes itself.

Blaak Richardson

Well there has been a large black population in Britain for over four hundred years…Not that you'd know that from watching BBC period dramas lol.


Well there is another british "drama" similar to Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs where an Indian guy works in the household. In one episode the white employer gives the Indian guy a gun to protect the white family. You can imagine how that went over when the rest of the family find out. I was shocked Indian guy was there at all and even more shocked that they set up such a confrontation to display the white racial superiority of the time. I guess it made Julian look a little bad that his show is so escapist and USDS isn't quite as escapist but pretty much the same quality.


Lol, I can hear the conversation clearly in my head -(with a British Accent) "Oh dear, I fret about adding them to the show, we have such excellent quality right now, and, well of course, they don't don't read, so maybe we can find a way to work them into the show. I hope this Bloody works, God Save The Queen"

Zoe Strachan

Nearly fell off my chair when I saw a scene with black musicians playing jazz at a club for two or three seconds. If Mr Fellowes picked up any history book or called someone he would know there were many non-white people in England at this time. He also said in his quote at the very least there should be an Indian! As if we should be grateful.


Awfully bloody nice of you my dear chap, but please Julian don't go out of your way on our account.

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