To those of us who endured the harrowing losses of both Matthew Crawley and Lady Sybill Crawley in the 2012 Christmas special of Downton Abbey, it was pretty obvious that there were going to be some changes coming about. And it seems we’ve been handed the first one: an official promotional photo featuring the entire cast… except for Dan Stevens and Jessica Brown Findlay.
The image features Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Laura Carmichael, Brendan Coyle Rob James-Collier, Lily James (who will be made a series regular) and the rest of the much loved residents of Downton Abbey, and excluding Dan Stevens and Jessica Brown Findlay.
Stevens’ departure came as quite a shock to a number of viewers last Christmas, who remained spoiler free, when, right after Lady Mary gave birth to her first child with Matthew, his car flew off the road and left him dead. The 30 year-old actor left the show to pursue greener pastures and recently apologised for his departure, but claimed he was happy that the Matthew and Mary relationship ended on a happy note and didn’t see him run off on her. Findlay left for similar reasons, and as a result, her character, Lady Sybill, died in childbirth.
Season 4 of the show is said to focus heavily on Mathew’s death and Lady Mary’s mourning; we will also see the return of Shirley McLaine, as Lady Cora’s mother, and Paul Giamatti as Cora’s brother.