Nigel Harman talks shocking Downton rape scene and X Factor musical

Downton Abbey fans were left aghast last night after watching shocking scenes in the hit period drama in which Lord Gillingham’s valet Mr Green brutally raped lady’s maid Anna Bates.

It’s a controversial storyline that has had everyone talking, and today Nigel Harman, who plays the part of the valet, joined This Morning to speak out about it.

“It was a shocking storyline and a bold storyline, and something that when I was sent the script and read it I was amazed by and excited by, if that’s the right word. For a show like Downton Abbey it really leaps out as a bold and risky idea.

“I’ve worked with Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates) and Brendan (Coyle, who plays John Bates) before and we got together and had a rehearsal with Catherine Morshead the director, and we just went for it.

“What we didn’t want to do was try to signal what was about to come. We had this man turning up who’s a bit cheeky and over confident, and he’s come up from London to Yorkshire, so we had all of that, but we didn’t want to signal what could be the shadow lurking him. And so we wanted to go for something that, as it would be in life, would be very shocking. “

Nigel added: “He is flirtatious and fun and a social animal with a very dark side, and it was exciting to play him, especially in the context of Downton in 1922.”

It’s a controversial storyline, but one which Nigel is happy to get his teeth stuck into – despite the fact that he didn’t even audition for the part of Mr Green initially.

“When I went for my audition I went for Lord Gillingham, which is brilliantly played by Tom Cullen. And I went in and did my best lord audition, I even ironed my shirt, I had perfect hair. And I went in and charmed the socks off Liz Trubridge [Downton Abbey’s producer], and I thought, ‘That went well’.

“My phone rang the next day, and my agent said, ‘They really liked you at Downton, but they think you’re much more suited to being downstairs. So I thought, ‘There’s my charming lord out the window, and in come Green!”

As well as playing Mr Green in Downton, Nigel is all set to star in the X Factor musical, the script for which he said is “completely nuts” and made him “wet my pants”, as well as comedy Mount Pleasant, which he opened up about in his interview on This Morning.

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