Staff WriterCreator and writer of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, defended the controversial storyline involving our favourite lady’s maid, Anna May Bates, which took fans by surprise in the recently aired episode of the show. To any American readers who are not watching along with the UK, beyond this point lie spoilers. Following the shocking final scenes of the episode, in which Anna, played brilliantly by Joanne Frogatt, was brutally beaten and raped by Green, a guest’s valet, ITV received 60 complaints. However according to Fellowes, whilst speaking to the BBC, the scene wasn’t done gratuitously, in keeping with the way things are done on Downton. In response to fans of the show who took to twitter to voice their ‘shock and distress’ at such a ‘sick and sensationalist’ storyline, while Fellowes apologised for the fact that fans felt the show couldn’t ‘go there’ he rejected the criticism and had this to say: “If we’d wanted a sensational rape we could have stayed down in the kitchen with the camera during the whole thing and wrung it out. The point of our handling is not that we’re interested in sensationalising but we’re interested in exploring the mental damage and the emotional damage.” Fellowes explains that the whole thing is about “taking characters to the brink”, and observing how Anna will now cope with the trauma of what has happened to her. Despite the controversial subject, Fellowes asserts that the plot development does not mean a new direction for the show, stating that “Downton deals in subjecting a couple of characters per series to a very difficult situation and you get the emotions that come out of these traumas.” Adding, “When you handle very difficult and sensitive storylines, the minus is that they do expect more work from the audience but the plus is they can take you to a helpful place in terms of self analysis.” If anything, for Fellowes, the fact that the viewers engage in any way- be it via social media or official complaints to the broadcaster- is a compliment to the show. Both Joanne Frogratt, and Nigel Harman, have nothing but praise for the storyline and what it means for the show and Anna’s character. Harman, who plays the deplorable Mr Green (we were warned that he was trouble before he walked in), is amazed at the bold and risky move and Frogratt has also defended the scenes, telling BBC Breakfast, that she was ‘proud’ that the show could tackle such an immense subject. However what do you think? Were the scenes too much for you, or did you find it shocking but bearable? It was tough to watch, and no doubt fists were shaken at the television screen with a few tears shed, however one thing is for certain the next few episodes, nay the rest of the series, will be haunted.