Everyone’s favourite buttoned-up British period drama is hitting ODEON screens this week, for a feature-length romp that promises to be fit for a king. Ahead of what’s sure to be the social event of the year, refresh your memory as to who’s who with our fun and fact-packed Downton Abbey character guide!
Played by: Hugh Bonneville
Title: 7th Earl of Grantham
Story in brief: Co-owner of the Downton Estate, along with his eldest daughter Mary. A serious health scare in the final season of the TV show saw the stuffy-but-kind Robert taking an increasing back seat in terms of business matters, but as patriarch of the Crawley family and a highly respected figure within the local (and wider) community, his word still carries a lot of weight.
Memorable quote: “There is nothing more ill-bred than trying to steal the affections of one’s dog.”
Played by: Elizabeth McGovern
Title: Countess of Grantham
Story in brief: Devoted wife to Robert and loving mother to Mary and Edith, savvy American heiress Cora is the glue that holds the Crawley family together, although she’s never truly recovered from losing her youngest daughter Sybil, who died following complications after giving birth.
Memorable quote: "No one ever tells you about raising daughters. You think it’ll be
like Little Women, and instead they’re at each others’ throats."
Played by: Maggie Smith
Title: Dowager Countess of Grantham
Story in brief: Robert Crawley’s outspoken mother and the real power behind the estate. Her wit is as sharp as the knife Downton butler Thomas uses to carve the Christmas goose.
Memorable quote: “First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel.”
Played by: Michelle Dockery
Title: Lady Mary Talbot (née Crawley)
Story in brief: Following the tragic death of her first husband Matthew, the eldest daughter of Robert and Cora Crawley found love again with racing driver Henry Talbot. A shrewd and hard-working businesswoman, the Downton estate (of which her son George is the heir) has been flourishing under Mary’s co-leadership, but will the upcoming royal visit throw her off course?
Memorable quote: “Haven’t you heard? I don’t have a heart. Everyone knows that.”
Played by: Laura Carmichael
Title: Marchioness of Hexham
Story in brief: The unlucky-in-life second daughter of Cora and Robert Crawley finally caught a break when she married Herbert Pelham (who accepted Edith’s illegitimate daughter Marigold as his own). As the new Marchioness of Hexham, Edith outranks even her heiress mother, Cora.
Memorable quote: “Something happening in this house is actually about me!”
Played by: Harry Hadden-Paton
Title: 7th Marquess of Hexham
Story in brief: After a turbulent courtship, Herbert ‘Bertie’ Pelham married Edith Crawley on New Year’s Eve, 1925. A thoroughly likeable chap, Bertie is unperturbed by Edith having an illegitimate daughter and accepts the delightful Marigold as his own.
Memorable quote: “It’s 1927, we’re modern folk.”
Played by: Allen Leech
Position: Manager of the Downton Estate and co-owner of Talbot and Branson
Story in brief: Once the Crawleys’ politically-fuelled chauffeur, Tom’s relationship with, and eventual marriage to, Robert and Cora’s youngest daughter Sybil saw him reluctantly climbing the social ladder. Sybil’s death almost destroyed him, but he rallied for the sake of their newborn daughter Sybbie (named after her late mother). It is rumoured the Downton Abbey movie will see Tom finding love once more.
Memorable quote: “Real love means giving someone the power to hurt you.”
Played by: Matthew Goode
Position: Co-owner of Talbot and Branson Motors
Story in brief: The nephew of Violet Crawley’s close friend Lady Shackleton, motor enthusiast Henry Talbot caught Mary’s eye during a mutual visit to Brancaster Castle. A game of cat-and-mouse ensued, with ice queen Mary eventually overcoming her fears and professing her love for Henry. In the 2015 Christmas Special (the last-ever TV episode of Downton Abbey), we found out that the now-married Henry and Mary were expecting a baby.
Memorable quote: “The car is your enemy but it’s my friend.”
Played by: Jim Carter
Position: Butler (retired)
Story in brief: As the no-nonsense and deeply loyal butler of Downton Abbey, Carson was greatly respected by its residents – both upstairs and down. The onset of palsy saw him retiring earlier than he had planned – but (if Lady Mary gets her way) the King and Queen’s upcoming visit could see him dispensing orders once more.
Memorable quote: “I am not a complete stranger to romance, Mrs. Hughes, if that’s
what you’re implying.”
Played by: Phyllis Logan
Story in brief: As measured a character as you could hope to meet, housekeeper Mrs Hughes oversaw (and continues to oversee) the running of Downton Abbey firmly but fairly, while also keeping a watchful eye on her retired butler husband Carson (their chaste will-they/won’t-they relationship had TV viewers gripped for years).
Memorable quote: “Oh heavens girl, you’re building a fire not inventing it.”
Played by: Brendan Coyle
Story in brief: Known as Bates or Mr. Bates to pretty much everyone (including his wife Anna), Robert Crawley’s valet was able to turn his rather miserable existence around at Downton, finding acceptance, allies and indeed love – this despite being sent to jail twice (for theft and murder), neither of which he was guilty of.
Memorable quote: “You can change your life if you want to. You have to be hard on
yourself, but you can change it completely.”
Played by: Joanne Froggatt
Position: Lady’s maid
Story in brief: Compassionate and loyal, Anna is an extremely well liked member of the Downton household, serving as both lady’s maid and confidante/friend to Mary. Life hasn’t always been especially kind to Anna (her family background is particularly harrowing), but at the start of the movie we find her still happily married to her beloved “Mr. Bates” and now with an 18-month-old son.
Memorable quote: “I love you, Mr. Bates! And I know it’s not ladylike to say so, but I’m not a lady and I don’t pretend to be.”
Played by: Lesley Nicol
Story in brief: Downton’s formidable, long-time cook has always ruled her kitchen with a rod of iron, but nobody – certainly not those upstairs anyway – has ever really complained as the food she produces is so delicious. She’s going to need to be at her brilliant best for the King and Queen’s impending visit. As she puts it: “A royal luncheon, a parade and a dinner? I’m going to have to sit down...”
Memorable quote: “Sympathy butters no parsnips.”
Played by: Sophie McShera
Position: Assistant cook
Story in brief: The surly but loveable Daisy started out as a kitchen maid at Downton before working her way up to assistant cook to Mrs. Patmore, with whom she has a fractious-but-sincere mother-daughter relationship. Her chicken broth is apparently to die for.
Memorable quote: “I’ve decided to live in the present and not spend my life regretting the past or dreading the future.”
Played by: Rob James-Collier
Story in brief: Something of a cad in the earlier seasons of the TV show (perhaps due to the fact that he is a gay man unable to live life as a gay man – it was illegal at the time), Thomas, of everyone at Downton, has perhaps gone on the biggest journey, culminating in a failed suicide attempt in season six. After leaving Downton briefly to work for another family, he returned and took over from the ailing Carson as butler, which is where we find him at the start of the movie – a much happier man than the one we first met.
Memorable quote: “There are times I would like to belong.”
Played by: Michael C. Fox
Position: Second footman
Story in brief: Hired as a temporary footman by Lord Grantham in the week leading up to Lady Rose’s wedding in 1924, Andrew ‘Andy’ Parker officially joined the staff later that year – and has been an increasingly valuable member ever since. Having never learnt to write more than his own name at school, he is constantly seeking to better himself.
Memorable quote: “Get back!”