Lesley Nicol Values ‘Downton’ Fans’ Passion, but Reminds: ‘It’s a Show’

“Downton Abbey’s” Lesley Nicol tells us she missed out on the big public clamor over the Season 3 finale in the U.K..  She was here in the States when she learned from her agent about fans being so upset over a character’s being killed off the show, there were complaints on the internet that the Christmas Day episode had ruined people’s holiday.

“This is a sticky one.  I value their passion but a part of me can’t help saying, ‘It’s a show.  It’s an actor,’” admits Nicol, known world-wide as blustery cook Mrs. Patmore.  “And an actor has to be allowed to move on if he wants to.’”

Nicol has no such desire, we’re glad to report.  “It’s lovely to work on this show.  It’s a privilege to be on it.  It’s a very good cast, a wonderful crew…We just want to make it better and better if we can.”  She was, however, here taking meetings with Hollywood executives about work outside of “Downton Abbey” — and tooling around town in a borrowed gold Jaguar.

“I was a nervous wreck because it’s a lovely car and the roads are quite scary in L.A., but I got used to it,” she says.

One result of her time here is that Nicol will be heading to Vancouver shortly to film an episode of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time.” After that, she flies to Chicago for a concert appearance.  And after that, it’s back to the U.K. to begin filming the fourth season of “Downton.”

Season 3 begins airing here Sunday (1/6) and there is much to relish, including the fun of Dame Maggie Smith crossing verbal swords with Shirley MacLaine, who has come aboard as the mother of American Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).  For Nicol, Season 3 opens up even more aspects of Mrs. Patmore’s personality.  She will be seen at the side of rival Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan), the head housekeeper, as Mrs. Hughes faces cancer.  And later in the season, it appears a bit of romance will be entering Mrs. Patmore’s life.

Nicol credits show creator Julian Fellowes for giving “everybody a proper journey.  He never leaves characters in one kind of groove.  He shows their different sides, just as we all have different sides to our characters.  To begin with, I was just this red-faced, angry bully.  But no one is just that.  The reason she behaved like that was, at that time, in that house, there would be no room for mistakes.  You couldn’t have people saying dinner at Downton Abbey wasn’t very good; it had to be the best show in town.”