Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Harman wanted upstairs Downton role

Nigel Harman has joined the Downton Abbey cast

Nigel Harman has revealed that although he got the part, his audition for Downton Abbey didn't quite go to plan.

The former EastEnder turned musical theatre star's character is part of the downstairs crew for series four of the popular ITV show, but that wasn't the actor's initial plan.

"I auditioned for Lord Gillingham, who's a new dashing love interest of Mary. When I went in, I looked absolutely gorgeous, if I do say so myself. I had lovely hair and I'd even ironed my shirt," he said.

"I was telling excellent stories and being so charming and well spoken."

The next day he received a call from his agent. She told him that the people at Downton loved him, but there was just one thing. "She said 'They think you're much more suited to downstairs'," he recalled.

So that's how he ended up playing Lord Gillingham's valet, a character who Nigel described as having "shadows".

The actor admitted he hasn't actually watched Downton Abbey very much: "After the first episode I'm not really sure what happens. But I'm very aware of its size," he said.

"There was a big sense of responsibility walking on to that show. When you're joining a show that's doing all right and it goes down, people are going to say it's your fault."

And although he's happy to be on the hit show, Nigel said he wouldn't class it as his ideal role.

"I wouldn't really say it's my dream job," he said. "That would be something like a really worthy piece of theatre in a warehouse, getting all gritty."

:: The fourth series of Downton Abbey begins on ITV in late September.

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