‘Downton Abbey’ Casts Its First Black Character

Gary Carr Joins Season 4

Earlier this year we learned that Downtown Abbey has cast a new leading man for the upcoming 4th season of the series but today we learn that another, more interesting casting choice has been made as well. Those of you who are familiar with the British TV drama know that the show features only Caucasian characters … that is, until now. Downton creator Gareth Neame has revealed that the show has cast its first Black actor who will bring, he says, “interesting twists” to the story. I say, it’s about damn time.

Downton Abbey executive producer Gareth Neame said today that Gary Carr‘s addition to the ITV show “will bring interesting twists to the drama.” The actor has most recently been seen in BBC series Bluestone 42 and Death In Paradise. His Downton character, Jack Ross, is a jazz singer described as “a charming and charismatic” young man. The addition marks the first time Downton has had a black character. The show has in the past faced criticism that it lacks cultural diversity. In the fourth season, he’ll join previously announced new cast members Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Dame Harriet Walter. Shooting is currently underway for air later this year. Carr is repped by Markham, Froggatt and Irwin in London.

This is great news for a show that I enjoy very much. I, too, have felt that the show was far too lacking in cultural diversity so I approve of this casting. I’m really hoping that Carr‘s addition to the show will be meaningful to the story, rather than just getting tossed in as a token character. Might one of the current Downton characters find romance with this new jazz singer? Oh man, I hope so. I would LOVE to see the Dowager Countess get her freak on for a change :)

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  1. bosie

    ZZZzzzz….Only if the story calls for a Black charcter makes sense. as for bring people of different colors just to make the show “diverse” is dumb.

    • @bosie — I completely agree. But, I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt. It’s really well-written so I don’t think they’ll just toss in a new character without good reason.

    • VV

      When was the last time Downton Abbey was “really well written”? The first series? Since then, some of it has been quite poor – far too predictable, too many pantomime villains and too much lazy writing. I still enjoy it, but it’s nowhere near as good as it used to be, and not a patch on Julian Fellowes’s previous “Gosford Park”.

    • @VV — I dunno, I have enjoyed all 3 seasons, to be honest. I can see how the show got a bit soap opera-y in season 3 but I really loved where the story took the characters. I was held RAPT all the way to the end of season 3.

  2. DA

    Ummmmm…fun image, but why did you use a picture of the non-black actors to illustrate diversity? Couldn’t you find a shot of the new actor you’re discussing?

    • @DA — I used the images from the show to illustrate that the show has been white only thus far. When the official photos of the new actor in character are released, I can post them as a follow up.

  3. GothProf

    Guys- It’s Victorian Sensation Fiction on film- OF COURSE it is predictable, OF COURSE it has ‘pantomime villains”- its following the format of sensation writing of the 1860′s perfectly… (though in 1920). Lets not over think it and enjoy it for the ride it offers. I LOVE it….!

  4. Leah

    I don’t know if you’ll see this Trent, but here is a link to the guy they casted:
    http://www.itv.com/downtonabbey/news/new-cast-gary-carr/

  5. Gaby B B

    The criticism of Downton Abbey as lacking cultural diversity is inappropriate to a certain extent. The world it depicts is an overwhelmingly ‘white’ one, and if they cast a black person as a servant, all of you would freak out about that. Should they really allow 21st century political correctness to get to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of this character if it makes sense, not just to please political correctness. If the show were about black people, no one would be complaining about its lack of white people.

  6. Wonky McValtrex

    How come no one ever demands that white actors be hired on predominantly black shows? How is hiring a black actor equivalent to diversity? Where are the Asians, Native Americans, and Latinos on current shows with a MODERN setting?

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