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Downton's Allen Leech: 'I wanted a different ending for Tom'

It's the penultimate episode of the last-ever series of Downton Abbey tonight so we're edging ever closer to the end of the ITV drama. And as we wait to find out how we will leave the Crawleys and their staff, actor Allen Leech has admitted that he would have loved “a different ending” for his character Tom Branson.

Talking to the TV Times about this week's motor racing-themed episode, he admitted he would have liked an alternative conclusion, but gave nothing away.

“If I’m honest, I would have loved love to see a different ending for Branson, but I don’t get to choose,” said Allen.

Downton Abbey star Allen Leech

Downton Abbey star Allen Leech (ITV)

“He knows his heart lies with the family, but he also wants his own way outside of the house. Maybe he’ll start to dip his toe into the world of romance again.”

Branson has been unlucky in love, as Downton Abbey fans know all too well. His wife Lady Sybil (played by Jessica Brown Findlay) died in series three.

And things didn’t work out with idealistic Sarah Bunting (Daisy Lewis), the local teacher who wanted to bring social justice to Downton.

Hugh Bonneville in Downton Abbey

Hugh Bonneville in Downton Abbey (Nick Briggs/ITV)

Branson’s father-in-law the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) took a dislike to the teacher because of her troublemaking.

On this subject, Allen said: “A lot of people didn’t like him getting close to Miss Bunting last year, I believe there was even a Twitter campaign about it. Perhaps Branson should find someone less fiery.”

In tonight’s episode, the Crawleys watch Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode) compete in a motor racing event, but Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is left reeling and it's no wonder given what happened to her poor hubby Matthew!

Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess

Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess (Nick Briggs/AP)

Meanwhile, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith) formulates a plan which takes the family by surprise.

Downstairs, Thomas (Rob James-Collier) feels increasingly isolated, and Carson (Jim Carter) is taught a lesson.

The motor racing delights former chauffeur Branson, but how did Allen feel about filming at Goodwood Circuit in West Sussex?

(Carnival Films/ITV)

(Carnival Films/ITV)

“It had an amazing atmosphere, but it made me realise that back in the day, there was no safety. It really was a place where you could lose your life very easily,” the 34-year-old said.

He also revealed how much the cast enjoyed seeing the vintage cars: “Understandably, the owners were very cautious. At least one car was worth millions of pounds, so they didn’t want people messing with them; it amazes me that they let them be driven.”

As the clock ticks down on Downton Abbey, thoughts naturally turn to what comes after. Allen acknowledged how big an impact the ITV drama has had on his career to date.

#Downton is never short of a fabulous set of pearls.

— Downton Abbey (@DowntonAbbey) October 30, 2015

“A huge amount of doors have opened for me and I’m very grateful because I didn’t expect anything from it,” he admitted.

“I went out to America 10 or 11 years ago and I couldn’t get arrested, let alone get an agent, but if you go out there on the back of a show that has had the global success of Downton, it’s such a different story.”

Downton Abbey continues tonight (Sunday 1 November) at 9.00pm on ITV.

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