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Downton Abbey shocker: Another key character departs

Date March 01, 2013

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap) - Sarah O'Brien has left the Abbey. Siobahn Finneran, who's played conniving maid O'Brien throughout "Downton Abbey's" three-season run, won't be returning for the upcoming fourth season of the British hit.

Finneran told the Press Association that she's done with the character.

"I'm not doing any more," Finneran, who'll be appearing in the second season of the BBC1 offering "The Syndicate" -- said. "O'Brien is a thoroughly despicable human being -- that was great to play."

The news will no doubt shake "Downton" fans, who have already had to contend with the shocking deaths of two key characters in recent months.

Matthew Crawley was knocked off in the "Downton Abbey" Christmas special, leading to the departure of cast member Dan Stevens.

That death was followed by the demise of Lady Sybil Branson, played by Jessica Brown Findlay. In an episode airing in the U.S. in January, Branson died after giving birth.

While the show's faithful might have been disappointed by the deaths, they appear to have remained faithful to the show: Its February Season 3 finale on PBS, which airs the show in the U.S., drew a jaw-dropping 8.2 million total viewers, easily besting the viewership for the Season 2 finale.

A spokeswoman for PBS member station WGBH said that the door is open for the O'Brien character to return in the future.

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