How Redbridge helped make Downton Abbey a hit this Christmas

More that one in 10 people tuned in to watch Downton Abbey this Christmas with the leading role played by an actress from Chadwell Heath.

Michelle Dockery who played Lady Mary Crawley in the hit ITV series has now confirmed she will return for a fourth series which will start filming next month.

She was joined on screen by Ilford born Dame Maggie Smith who left Redbridge aged four to move to Oxford.

The third series was brought to a surprising and devastating end with the death of Lady Mary’s husband Matthew, just after the birth of their first son.

Michelle said: “I guess she becomes a woman in the third series. The way it’s written it feels that even though Mary maintains that pragmatic side to her – which can be quite bossy at times - she’s really grown up.”

She said this change in her character was particularly shown with her relationship to her sister Edith, played by Laura Carmichael.

“I think it’s fair to say that things have softened between them,” she said. “They look out for each other a little more. Of course, they still disagree on things, like sisters do. But Mary is a little more mature now.”

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Over the three series her character has become less cold and scathing as she has taken on her responsibility to her family and to the legacy of Downton Abbey.

“The thought of leaving Downton or Downton falling in to trouble is unthinkable to her, because this is her legacy with Matthew,” she said. “She feels the weight of that legacy more than ever before.”

Despite high hopes for the Christmas special viewing figures were lower than anticipated pulling in 7.3 million. This put the programme sixth in the Christmas ratings battle.

But for anyone who has not had their fill of the costume drama, Lady Mary will be back and adjusting to her life without the man she loved and learning to move on.

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