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Dan 'had no say' in Downton Abbey death

Former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens has insisted that he had no say in his character's controversial death in the ITV period drama.

Matthew Crawley was killed off at Christmas in a car crash, in an exit that shocked millions of viewers.

Dan, who had already made the decision to leave the drama, told the Radio Times: "I am sorry about that! I think what emerged is that it's an unwritten rule that you're not supposed to die on British television on Christmas Day, and that, specifically, was not my doing."

He said of Downton Abbey, created by Julian Fellowes: "We didn't see that script until the very last minute, so we didn't know exactly how they were going to do it.

"There was a bit of a sweepstake going on and all sorts of speculation like, would he be gored by a stag in the Highlands? Or was some masonry going to fall from a parapet and hit him on the head?"

Dan (opens in new tab), who recently enjoyed a spell on Broadway in The Heiress, said: "I didn't have any say in the manner in which he went. Ultimately, it was in the hands of Julian and the producers."

But he added: "It was right that he didn't run off and have an affair with somebody. I don't think that would have been right for Matthew as a character."

Dan will be appearing later this month in the film Summer In February, a romance set in Edwardian England.

He told the magazine that his character in the film might bear a resemblance to Downton Abbey's Matthew.

"For the last part of filming Summer in February I was actually filming Downton too," he said. "There was an overlap and, as a result, Gilbert Evans ended up looking curiously similar to a certain Matthew Crawley, because the hair and everything else had to match."


Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.