Downton's winners and losers: From the cook now hob-nobbing with Hollywood A-listers to those THREE doomed doggies, who did best out of the hit drama's stars

They returned to our screens on Sunday night like long-lost friends. In the five years since it began, Downton has become a worldwide hit, and now a film is in the pipeline. 

But while its characters are household names, the fortunes of its real-life stars have been decidedly mixed...


Lily James - Lady Rose

She was a relative latecomer to Downton — rebellious Lady Rose didn’t arrive until the end of series three — and left after the Christmas 2014 special.

But Lily, 26, is one of the few to have crossed the divide from 1920s Yorkshire to 2015 Hollywood.

Having pipped actress Emma Watson to the post to play Cinderella in Kenneth Branagh’s recent Disney remake, Esher-born Lily is now regularly photographed in jaw-dropping couture (we’re talking £30,000 dresses and £3,000 shoes). She’s also been shot by renowned celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz and featured in Vogue.

Lily’s net worth is believed to be between £1 million and £2 million — and she’s snagged her own leading man: former Doctor Who Matt Smith, whom she’s been dating since last year.

Leading ladies: Both Joanne Froggatt and Lily James have seen their careers take off as a result of Downton

Joanne Froggatt - Anna Bates

She looks pretty plain in her lady’s maid uniform, but recently Joanne, 34, has been flaunting her success in a number of striking (and eye-wateringly expensive) red carpet outfits.

She was pictured at the Emmy Awards in LA on Sunday wearing a sleek, sweeping pink gown (left) by chic French designer J. Mendel — with a price tag of £3,151. And at this year’s Golden Globes, she donned a £5,500 embellished Marchesa dress.

Joanne is said to owe her makeover to renowned Hollywood stylist Brad Goreski.

According to a TV insider, ‘she’s the one to watch’ and certainly hasn’t been short of work, starring in BBC drama The Secrets, TV mini-series True Love and independent film Still Life.

The £1.3 million she’s thought to have earned helped her buy a four-bedroom house in Buckinghamshire with her computer programmer husband James Cannon.

Lesley Nicol - Mrs Patmore

Not one of Downton’s glamour girls, but that hasn’t stopped Manchester-born Lesley, 62, from using her role as frumpy cook Mrs Patmore to build an A-list lifestyle.

The actress has won parts in two American dramas on the back of her Downton success and now lives in the Los Angeles hills in a £2 million villa, complete with swimming pool.

She counts the likes of Star Wars director JJ Abrams, chef Gordon Ramsay and singer Bette Midler as friends, and drives a gold Jaguar.

Lesley shares her second home, a £1 million mansion in London, with exotically-named husband Da’aboth Te’He’ling. The couple got together and fell in love when she was in her 50s.

As for her hubby, he changed his name from plain old David after becoming a spiritual healer. How very Hollywood.

Success: Downton Abbey actress Lesley Nicol has made the most of her move to Los Angeles

Success: Downton Abbey actress Lesley Nicol has made the most of her move to Los Angeles

Brendan Coyle - Mr Bates

As Plodding valet John Bates, he’s the surprise heartthrob of Downton and has earned around half his £3.2 million fortune, as well as a Bafta and Emmy nomination, from the show.

A stalwart of other costume dramas, including BBC’s Lark Rise to Candleford, he’s set to hit the big screen in a film called Me Before You. There are also rumours of a project with A-lister Ben Affleck.

Brendan, who splits his time between a modest flat in London and a home on the Norfolk coast — is secretive about his love life, though he’s occasionally pictured with attractive blondes. One fan recently bid £12,900 at an auction to go on a date with him. 

Michelle Dockery - Lady Mary

A modern-day Eliza Doolittle, Michelle Dockery’s turn as Lady Mary — with her exquisitely-clipped vowels and upper-class lifestyle — couldn’t be further from the actress’s Essex roots as the daughter of a Dublin-born former lorry driver.

Michelle, 33, has undergone a remarkable makeover since the early days, hiring a £10,000-a-time stylist to help her wow Hollywood at the Golden Globes in 2013.

The image overhaul paid off: she starred alongside Keira Knightley in the 2012 film Anna Karenina and opposite Liam Neeson in 2014’s Non-Stop.

These days, she socialises with Hollywood A-listers and was even invited to Wimbledon’s Royal Box, where she was seen chatting to Pippa Middleton (above).

Her new lifestyle doesn’t come cheap, but Michelle isn’t short of cash. Thanks to Downton, she’s got a net worth of £2.5 million.

She’s engaged to boyfriend John Dineen, a financial PR — handy for keeping that fortune in check.

High class: Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, was seen chatting away to Pippa Middleton in the Royal Box at Wimbledon this year

High class: Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, was seen chatting away to Pippa Middleton in the Royal Box at Wimbledon this year

Fiona Carnarvon - Highclere Castle owner

Lady Carnarvon — 51-year-old matriarch of the real-life Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle in West Berkshire — has built a veritable empire on the show’s coat-tails.

Admission tickets to her 300-room house cost £20 and are sold out for the rest of the month. There’s also a gift shop, selling everything from Highclere cushions (£20) to teapots (£59.50) and books (£18 for Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey, penned by Lady Carnarvon herself).

Maintaining the castle, which her family has owned since the 17th century, is said to cost around £960,000 a year. But the coffers are boosted by Downton Abbey, for which ITV pays up to £3,400 a day in filming fees.

Fans can rent out the estate for a wedding or corporate event from £24,000 a day. Lady Carnarvon can even be hired as an after-dinner speaker — if you’ve got deep pockets. Fees at her agency start at £12,800.

Happy days: Lord and Lady Carnarvon, pictured, in front of their home Highclere Castle, have turned Downton into a commercial success

Happy days: Lord and Lady Carnarvon, pictured, in front of their home Highclere Castle, have turned Downton into a commercial success

John Lunn - The composer

It’s one of the most familiar theme tunes in the country — so it’s no wonder John Lunn, composer of the sweeping track that plays over Downton’s opening credits, is enjoying the fruits of its success.

Entitled Did I Make the Most Of Loving You?, the composition was released as the show’s soundtrack in 2011 and promptly topped the classical charts.

In 2014, a follow-up festive album — Christmas at Downton Abbey — was the fifth best-selling CD of the year.

John recently revealed that he is in talks with the show’s creator Julian Fellowes to come up with a money-spinning Downton tour, taking the show’s stars and music around the UK. 

Other surprise winners... 

Boom for butlers

Domestic help is in vogue thanks to the Abbey’s downstairs stars.

Between 2010 and 2012, demand for butlers in UK homes doubled, with some requesting salaries of £150,000 a year.

Sara Vestin Rahmani, of London training agency Bespoke Bureau, says: ‘We are experiencing a massive increase in the number of wealthy families wanting butlers.’ Last year, China — where Downton has a huge following — opened its first school for butlers, attributing it to demand inspired by the show.

Period jewels

John Lewis brought out a range of Downton Abbey jewellery in 2013. Fans can adorn themselves with a pearl and crystal brooch (£25) similar to the one sported by Dame Maggie Smith in Sunday night’s episode. Experts value the Downton merchandise market at £100 million.

Starched collars

Lord Grantham may look a little hot and bothered in those 1920s-style collars (left) — but Bournemouth laundry The Barker Group, which operates the world’s only starched collar service, now exports 80,000 vintage collars a year to overseas clients desperate to recreate the formal Downton look.

Prior to the first series, business was slow, with demand for a few thousand a year for film sets and costume dramas.

Side saddles

The sight of Lady Mary galloping across the Grantham Estate side-saddle has brought the retro riding style back into fashion. UK side saddle display groups now regularly put on performances and sales of the bespoke saddles have risen.

Saddler Sarah Parry says she ‘always notices’ when Downton Abbey is back on TV as demand for lessons soars.


Jessica Brown-Findlay - Lady Sybil

Downton quitter Jessica Brown-Findlay left the series in 2012 to pursue other projects (her character, Lady Sybil, died of eclampsia after giving birth).

It started well: in 2012, she was cast in the film version of A Winter’s Tale alongside Russell Crowe. But her 2014 work, The Riot Club, grossed just £1.37 million at the box office and was a critical flop.

She missed out on the title role of Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, and her BBC debut — on three-part drama Jamaica Inn  — was disliked by viewers who accused her of ‘incoherent mumbling’.

In November, she stars in the film Victor Frankenstein alongside Daniel Radcliffe — but the jury’s still out on the wisdom of leaving Downton.

Unlike some of her colleagues, Jessica Brown Findlay has had modest success after leaving the show

Unlike some of her colleagues, Jessica Brown Findlay has had modest success after leaving the show

Downton dogs

The beloved Crawley family Labrador has been played by three different dogs over the years, and none has met a happy exit.

Roly, who played Pharoah in series one, had plenty of acting experience, having starred in Midsomer Murders. But he had to go because he kept getting into scraps with Percy, the real-life dog of Highclere chatelaine Lady Carnarvon.

Ellie came next as the unfortunately-named Isis. She was then replaced by Abbie in series four, only for the canine character to be killed off at the end of series five, amid hotly-denied rumours that she had to go because she shared her name with Islamic terrorists.

Fans will be relieved to hear that all three dogs are still in showbusiness, having put their Downton days behind them.

Laura Carmichael -  Lady Edith

The only real-life true blue-blood of the Downton bunch (her great-grandfather owned a castle), Carmichael really should have had it made after her breakthrough role as plain Lady Edith.

But aside from a few bit parts — in 2011 film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and 2014’s Madame Bovary — Carmichael, 29, has done surprisingly little. Her West End debut in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in 2012 was slated by none other than acclaimed director Sir Peter Hall, who interrupted her mid-performance to say: ‘It doesn’t work and you don’t work.’

He later apologised, explaining that he had briefly fallen asleep in the production and was ‘disorientated’. 

Dog's life: The beloved Crawley family Labrador has been played by three different dogs over the years

Dog's life: The beloved Crawley family Labrador has been played by three different dogs over the years

Elizabeth McGovern - Cora, Countess of Grantham

She was the toast of Hollywood 30 years ago, engaged to actor Sean Penn and nominated for an Oscar at the age of 20. But things took a different turn for American actress Elizabeth McGovern, 54.

Her big-screen break since joining Downton came earlier this year in Woman In Gold, alongside Helen Mirren. But the film — directed by McGovern’s husband, Simon Curtis — was panned by critics.

Much of her £2.5 million fortune was amassed before Downton. And just as well: these days she prefers music over acting, performing with her band, Sadie & The Hotheads, near the home she shares in West London with Simon and their two children.

Dan Stevens  - Matthew Crawley 

Dan Stevens left audiences reeling when his character Matthew died in a car crash at the end of series three, screened on Christmas Day 2012.

Tough start: Dan Stevens' first four films post-Downton were flops

Tough start: Dan Stevens' first four films post-Downton were flops

The actor, now 32, left for Hollywood to much fanfare the following year, moving his family (wife Susie Hariet and children Willow and Aubrey) to New York to pursue his acting dreams.

He lost 14kg, swapped his foppish locks for a trendy haircut and recruited a top PR team.

But Dan’s first four films were flops, and his one blockbuster (the sequel to A Night At The Museum) earned no critical plaudits. His latest role, in an advert for fashion designer Giorgio Armani, doesn’t even require him to speak. 


The natural look

Viewers of Sunday night’s episode were struck by the rather smooth appearance of some of the show’s stars — a stark contrast to their natural looks in series one.

Fans compared Lady Mary with Roald Dahl’s wrinkle-free Willie Wonka, while another asked online: ‘Why are all the main female characters so skinny?’ Even portly, plain Mrs Patmore seemed to be looking more coiffed than normal.

Be it Hollywood makeovers or something more permanent (there are rumours some of the Abbey residents have had plastic surgery), it has the effect of turning the Downton corridors into a catwalk.

Historical accuracy

Spotting Downton gaffes is said to be a favourite pastime of the Queen, who apparently noticed that the World War I medals seen in one episode were actually awarded in World War II.

Shots of the village have shown TV aerials on roofs, PVC windows, yellow lines on the road and models of car not manufactured until years later. In one now-infamous publicity still, a bottle of Evian mineral water could be seen on the mantelpiece behind his Lordship and Lady Edith.

Some of the dialogue is also questionable. In one episode, under-butler Barrow told someone to ‘get knotted’ — a phrase not introduced until the Sixties.

There is even debate over the colour of the dogs’ fur, with historians noting that Isis would have been a butterscotch brown rather than yellow, as the whitish-yellow we see now didn’t appear naturally until the mid-20th century.

Priceless antiques

The real casualties of filming Downton in such a historic setting have been the antiques.

‘We have had a few accidents; they knock the walls and skirting boards,’ says Lady Carnarvon, who hides a mahogany desk and chair that once belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte in another room so they’re not damaged.

In the first episode of the first series, a priceless box was smashed by one of the crew. Since then, she’s seen chipped paintwork, scratched paintings and had an irreplaceable antique vase toppled by a dog. 

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