Laura Carmichael: ‘The last moment of Downton was a close-up on me at 6am trying to remember the lines!’

It’s the end of an era as Downton Abbey shuts its doors for good on Christmas Day on ITV. TV Times asked Laura Carmichael, who plays Edith, what’s in store…

Were you happy with how the Christmas finale ends?
“We all loved it and it was a lovely thing on set when we read the scripts. Julian Fellowes never goes the way you expect or imagine.”

Edith was dumped by Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton) in the series finale last month, is there any hope of a reconciliation in the Christmas episode?
“Edith is very resilient, but clearly heartbroken. She doesn’t push it, she’s not going to beg. That’s all I can really say and allow your imagination to do the rest!”

Did you enjoy the big row with Mary (Michelle Dockery) in the series finale after Mary blabbed to Bertie that Edith was Marigold’s mother?
“There was a lot of pressure for that scene because we knew it was coming and it was terrifying, but we were looking forward to it. We both longed for it because we really wanted to show their relationship come to a head, you needed for them to have this row and it’s a great scene. At Christmas, that relationship carries along, it’s such a fascinating dynamic, and they come back together in a way.”

What was it like to shoot your final scene?
“It was special and emotional because it was the last scene to be shot. It was with Sam Bond [Rosamund] and another character. It was a night shoot and there were a lot of lines so the last moment of Downton was a close-up on me at 6am trying to remember all the lines!

“Michelle Dockery did the clapper board and our crew were in costume, so it was really magical and when they shouted, ‘It’s a wrap’, we had champagne.”

Will you watch the last episode at Christmas?
“Yes, for sure. The other day we were sorting out our Secret Santa because I have an enormous family and they were suggesting dressing up because it’s the last Downton Christmas! When I watch though, I spend a lot of time chatting on WhatsApp with other members of the cast who are also watching with their families.”

Have you enjoyed Edith’s progression over the last six series?
“Her journey has been so interesting and so changeable in a way that’s so satisfying for an audience and for an actor. I think she’s become a far more likeable character. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Do you like the way she has become a career girl?
“Yes, she’s the underdog, but she has made something of herself. I loved the newspaper story because my granny was a journalist in Bath during the Second World War and my cousin emailed me the other day to say how funny it would be if granny could see where Edith is now. She did see the first series, but she passed away in between.”

What’s next for you?
“I’m starting on a film, United Kingdom, with Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo, which will be fun. And then I’m doing Marcella, which is a new crime drama on ITV. It’s nice to stretch other muscles. But in February when we would normally by filming Downton again, we’ll all be in bits.”

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