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'Downton Abbey' adds first black character

Date May 01, 2013

By Tony Maglio

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - It appears that history is catching up with "Downton Abbey." Or perhaps it's the other way around.

"Downton Abbey" has officially added its first black cast member to the show. London-born Gary Carr will join the popular British period drama for its fourth season. Carr has appeared on television series "Bluestone 42" and "Death in Paradise." Carr will play Jack Ross, a charming and charismatic jazz singer.

"Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes had been criticized for the show's lack of diversity. While Fellowes said that he wanted to introduce black and Asian characters, he felt beholden to doing so in a manner that would be "historically believable."

Gareth Neame, an executive producer of "Downton Abbey," said in a statement, "We are delighted to introduce another fantastic, dynamic character to 'Downton Abbey.' His addition will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can't wait for viewers to see in Series four."

Other new cast members include: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Dame Harriet Walter.

The show, which is broadcast on ITV in Britain and PBS in the United States, follows the lives of a wealthy white aristocrat family and its servants in the early 20th century. ITV said that the fourth season of "Downton Abbey" would consist of eight episodes and one "feature length special" that will be shown at Christmas in Britain. PBS has yet to announce the American airdates.

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