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The men & women of Downton Abbey

Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham Dame Maggie SmithShe needs no introduction, but the sharp tongue and self-centered antics of Dame Maggie Smith's character Violet are some of the highlights of Downton

Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Dame Maggie Smith

She needs no introduction, but the sharp tongue and self-centered antics of Dame Maggie Smith’s character Violet are some of the highlights of Downton Abbey. Maggie (76) picked up an Emmy Award for playing the character, which she says she enjoys. “She’s a mean old bat really, but I do quite enjoy it,” said Maggie in a recent interview with 3 News. Unlike her self-centred character, Maggie generously offered her support to the earthquake-damaged Court Theatre in Christchurch, and has become the international patron for the theatre’s $4.6-million rebuild fundraiser appeal.

John Bates

Brendan Coyle

The budding romance between Bates, the butler, and Anna (Joanne Froggatt) the housemaid, had viewers on the edge of their seats in season one. Though the characters eventually discovered their feelings for each other, in season two the couple face further obstacles when Bates’ estranged wife, Vera, arrives on the scene.

Similar to his character, actor Brendan Coyle’s (47) love life has taken a back seat while he prioritises his career. “There were relationships, but starting a family and getting married never happened. Sometimes I think I missed out on things like travelling. I’d have been terrified of missing an audition,” says Brendan.

Bates has emerged as the most unlikely sex symbol of the series, but Brendan is modest about the amount of female attention he’s getting.

“If Bates is a sex symbol, then it’s because of the romance written into the script

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