Two of the stars of Downton Abbey have spoken out about the kiss their characters shared in the most recent series of ITV’s worldwide costume-drama hit.
Downton Abbey, which has been running since 2010, was created by Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) and is written by Fellowes, Tina Pepler and Shelagh Stephenson.
Season three of Downton Abbey included a scene where Thomas (Rob James-Collier) the underbutler kissed Jimmy (Ed Speleers) the footman, after stealing into the latter’s room one night.
In the current issue of Radio Times, Speleers, 24, says he was not fazed by kissing his male co-star, James-Collier: “I loved that whole dynamic. [Rob] is a brilliant kisser.”
James-Collier, 36, had already spoken about the kiss. In an interview with the Huffington Post, he said, “Ed Speleers has got really soft lips. If you’re going to kiss a man, let it be a beautiful man like Ed Speleers. I’m not going to demand a beautiful guy. I’d kiss ugly guys as well, but if they’re good looking … it’s a bonus.”
This isn’t the first time that Downton Abbey has featured a so-called “gay kiss”. In season 1, Thomas and the Duke of Crowborough (Charlie Cox) were involved in a sexual dalliance, and were shown kissing each other.
Such scenes are de rigueur in British dramas these days and rarely any disquiet other than from some religious quarters. However, earlier this year, the kiss did cause some controversy when the season 1 episode in question was broadcast by one of Britain’s EU neighbours. In what has tended to be perceived as the more traditionally macho Greece, broadcasters took it upon themselves to excise the segment from the episode prior to its being transmitted to Greek viewers.
The decision by the state broadcaster, ERT, to censor the scene was roundly criticised by the Greek press, leading to ERT’s own managing director, Nikos Simos, agreeing with those criticisms. In a statement, as reported by Channel 24, stated that the station’s management had not been informed of the cut prior to transmission. Simos went on to say that it was an “unfortunate decision involving arbitrary censorship […] Such actions should be avoided in future.”
Since its launch in 2010, Downton Abbey has conquered the television world. According to Carnival, the production company that makes the drama, staggeringly, broadcasting rights have been sold to more than 200 different countries – staggering because, as Radio Times says, officially, there are only 206 sovereign states.
Elsewhere, a number of copy-cat-type dramas are being produced by other countries, including Copper (USA), Grand Hotel (Spain) and Vale Valhalla (Australia).
To date, there have three seasons of Downton Abbey – plus, in 2011, a Christmas special. There is to be a second Christmas special, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day 2012. As to its future, Fellowes told Metro recently that he’d be “shocked” if ITV didn’t commission a fourth series.
Meanwhile, the broadcaster has already commissioned a prequel spinoff from Fellowes, which was announced in September.