Siobhan Finneran, who plays evil maid Sarah O’Brien, has revealed her reasons for leaving the show.
‘I signed up to do three series and that was all I wanted to do,’ she says. ‘I talked it through with my family and it was the right decision for all of us.
‘I had great fun doing it but I just didn’t want to do it any more. I decided this before we even did the last series. When I stop loving something, I stop doing it.’
‘I have no idea how they will explain my absence,’ she adds.
But she’ll stay in touch with her co-stars. ‘I was out with Sophie McShera last night and we’re on the phone daily — often on an hourly basis. And I speak to Rob James-Collier at least twice a week,’ she says. ‘They will be friends for life and they fill me in with all the gossip.’
Meanwhile, new cast member Harriet Walter has revealed, ‘I’ve watched Downton Abbey, and, when you know a television series so well, you think all the characters are real so I am sure it will come as a bit of a surprise to actually be on the set when I get to meet the actors!’
She adds, ‘My scenes will all be with Dame Maggie, but I won’t be able to compete with her one-liners.’
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