'Downton Abbey' Finally Adds the Handsome Black Man It's Been Missing All Along

TV Addict 6

Gary CarrDownton Abbey is adding several cast members for season 4, but there's one new face that's getting quite a bit more attention than the others. While new characters include a love interest for Lady Mary, a "young and handsome aristocrat," an opera singer, and a new valet, it's Jack Ross that's creating all the buzz. Played by London-born actor Gary Carr, Jack Ross will be a "charming and charismatic" jazz singer ... and he just so happens to be the first black character featured on the wildly popular British period drama.

Gary Carr is likely a welcome addition for those who have criticized Downton Abbey's lack of diversity, and his casting must have been the first step in writer Julian Fellowes' stated plan to “open the show up ethnically."

However, I have to say, the character description is a little ... odd.

Carr joins a slew of new cast members for the fourth season. The list includes Tom Cullen, who will play a new love interest for Lady Mary Crawley called Lord Anthony Gillingham; Julian Ovenden, a "young and handsome aristocrat"; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who takes on the role of an opera singer hired to perform at a party to help cheer up Lady Mary; Dame Harriet Walter, who's cast as an old school friend of the Dowager Countess called Lady Shackleton; Nigel Harmon, who's introduced as a charismatic new valet; and Joanna David, who will make a guest appearance as the Duchess of Yeovil.

Gary Carr's Jack Ross is described as a "fantastic, dynamic character" who will "bring interesting twists to the drama." That sounds great and all, but the casting notes reportedly sent out to actors’ agents earlier this month seemed ... I don't know, maybe a little shallow?

Black and very handsome. Male, 25-30. A musician (singer) at an exclusive club in the 20s. A real man (not a boy) with charm and charisma. Overall he should be a very attractive man with a certain wow factor.

Must be real man. Real black man. Real HOT black man.

Well, despite the slightly goofy quality of the character description, it seems Fellowes is following through on his intentions to make Downton more multi-cultural, and we should keep an eye out for a (hot, REAL?) Indian character soon too:

You have to work it in in a way that is historically believable, but I am sure we could do that. [The show] certainly ought to have an Indian character from that period.

Do you think it's wrong that Downton Abbey hasn't had a black character before now?


Image via BBC

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Coles... Coles_mom

I think they're trying too hard to be politically correct. I don't think the show lacks diversity- I think it's exactly what it is for the time period and class it's set in. Still my favorite show though!!

nonmember avatar surfer

Why exactly did the show need a "black man" errrrrr "handsome black man" lol as opposed to any other non-white man/woman? I think the show sucks anyhow....'Diversifying' is born out of that disease called: liberal-white guilt.

nonmember avatar Pearl Duncan

Yes, excellent news but I would like to add one point -- there are African Americans and Caribbeans who are related as descendants of British nobles and royals. Here is an article about rare black American ancestors who were related and who were involved with one of the castles in "Downton Abbey." Jack Ross should be added to the cast, not only as a jazz musician, but as someone who is related to the upstairs family or their fellow aristocrats. Fascinating. Now that's a mystery. Here's the article:

http://politic365.com/2013/05/07/lost-history-in-downton-abbey

nonmember avatar Candace

No thanks. Blacks do not belong in Downton Abbey. The age of PC has passed.

Brett Baylis

Well,if they'd wanted a black lad of 60-July 6-with boyish good looks,Yours Truly would have been STRONGLY considered!!!!!

nonmember avatar Tom Jackson

Downton Abbey has conveniently left out the historical roots UK's multi-cultural past--global sea-faring trade, war, and colonization. History shows it is appropriate to address multi-cultural issue in Downton Abbey, seeing as Mr. Fellows has taken time to tackle many issues: homosexuality, the plight and place of women in the early 20th century, women's suffrage, global affairs (including WWI, Ireland Related issues, and the colonization of India), prostitution, work houses, prison, class and station, religion (Catholics vs. Protestants), law (as it pertains to inheritance), industrialization and the effect of new technology (telegraph, telephone, type writer, toaster, record player, in house electricity, electric mixer, etc...). In short, issues regarding the negative social effects of Great Britain’s global empire have largely been ignored (including its participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade), save for the death of large numbers of young white men in WWI and how it affected the mate selection process of aristocratic women. Sorry, Downton watchers. The British are not innocent no matter how much Mr. Fellows has seemingly white washed the issue of race in his fictional period drama. Many people made investments and profited off trading slaves. While the new black character may have an interesting lineage, the fact remains that portraying 98% of the episodes as GB being all white is a myth that many will see as being accurate. What a shame.

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