Nigel Harman defends ‘bold and risky’ Downton rape scene

Nigel Harman has admitted it was a ‘shocking’ storyline after his character was involved in a rape scene in Downton Abbey which has led to complaints to ITV and Ofcom.

The actor, who plays Lord Gillingham’s valet Mr Green, attacked Anna Bates in the latest edition of Downton.

ITV, which warned viewers about upsetting scenes before the period drama began, said it had received ‘around 60 complaints’. Ofcom has also been contacted by viewers, but would not give out a figure.

Fans of Downton immediately voiced their concerns about the scenes after the broadcast by posting messages on Twitter.

Nigel said it had been a ‘bold and risky idea’ to include such a plot.

Appearing on ITV’s This Morning programme, he said: “It was a shocking and bold storyline, and something that when I was sent the script and read it was like amazed and excited by it, if that makes sense, because for a show like Downton it really leaped out as a bold and risky idea.”

He added: “I’d worked with Joanne Froggatt and Brendan Coyle before and we had a rehearsal and went for it. And what we wanted to do was to try and not signal about what was to come.

“We went for something – as it would be in real life – very shocking.”

The episode was seen by an average audience of 9.2 million according to overnight figures.