Rob James-Collier: ‘The devil has the best tunes!’

Rob James-Collier reveals how scheming former footman and wounded soldier Thomas Barrow takes charge in the new series of ITV1’s Downton Abbey

What’s it like for Thomas being back at Downton after his war experiences?

“He’s been though a lot, suffered and experienced the horrors of it all, so it puts thing into perspective for him. Soldiers never come back as the same person – how could they after what they went through? Petty things like getting one over on Bates don’t mean so much. When he deals with wounded soldiers at Downton he genuinely cares for some for the first time.”

Tell us about the glove he wears…

“He wears a glove now because of the self-inflicted war wound. I always forget to put it on for my scenes! The mangled hand looks good though – the make-up department have done well. I think he should have had a hook though! He’d be even more sinister, and it would have saved costs on make-up and prosthetics.”

Can we expect the scheming double act with Cora’s maid O’Brien to continue?

“She’s responsible for getting him back to Downton Abbey, so they pretty much hit the ground running with their scheming like before. Basically plotting to bring about everyone’s downfall and for their own benefit. We love our ‘smoking and plotting’ scenes out the back, and there a plenty this time around in Downton!”

Do you enjoy playing a baddie?

“Oh yes, the devil always has the better tunes!”

Do you get any abuse from viewers?

“Not yet, but I’ve been brought an espresso coffee! A man and his family bought me one for being evil. Evil is rewarded in this country! Basically I’d ordered it, and he paid for it! I should have ordered something else! I do have a bit of Thomas banter, too, with the ladies in the bank and post office of my local village. They boo me when I come in! But it’s all affectionate and nice because it’s good that your character has an effect on people. Thomas definitely isn’t dull. They don’t actually believe I’m like him though, thankfully.”

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