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 “Downton Abbey” Adds Some Color To Its Cast- Clutch Magazine

Diversity isn’t always easy to find when it comes to television programming. But I’ve never been the type to discredit certain shows because of their lack of brown or black faces. Currently two of my favorite shows air on Sunday nights.  Since I don’t own a DVR, I’m constantly flipping back and forth between “The Walking Dead” on AMC and “Downton Abbey” on PBS. Two totally different shows.  Zombies and Aristocrats. “The Walking Dead” has somewhat of a diverse cast, but I won’t mention how pissed I was when T-Dogg got killed or how Michonne and her sword usually have very little to say, or the fact that Tyrese ran away from the prison scared shitless of Rick’s behaviour. But enough about zombies and human survival, “Downton Abbey” is making changes soon.

If you haven’t watched the show before, it’s a British period drama  set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey. It depicts the lives of a family of aristocrats and their servants in the post-Edwardian era. The story lines intertwine moments of history that had an effect on their lives. The series is set between 1912 and the 1920s. Last November, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, “Downton Abbey’s” creator Julian Fellowes said he would be open to diversifying the cast.  “Oh I think that’s rather a good idea. You have to work it in a way that is historically believable, but I am sure we could do that”.

Well it looks like “Downton Abbey” is adding a “splash” of color. According to casting notes obtained obtained by the Sun, the show is casting a black actor to play jazz musician,  Jack Ross, in the upcoming season.

The Sun reports:

Casting notes were sent out to actors’ agents earlier this month. They describe Ross as “Male, 25-30. A musician (singer) at an exclusive club in the 20s.‘He’s black and very handsome. A real man (not a boy) with charm and charisma.’ Whoever lands the role should ‘ideally be able to sing brilliantly’. Overall he should be a very attractive man with a certain wow factor.’ Jack Ross will play a key part in the fourth series of the hit TV saga alongside a string of other fresh faces.”

But not everyone is happy about the decision. Just take a look at a few of the comments in the article:

“love Downton Abbey but I wish there were areas in the British cultural history that were left alone by the PC brigade ! Why are they always trying to rewrite dramas about our own cultural towns and villages, firstly Midsomer Murders now this.   How many stately home families in the 20’s had even seen black people let alone let them mingle in their circles”

In Britain people complain about the diversity in “Downton Abbey”, in the U.S. some complain about it in “Girls”.  I’m going to assume this role will cast a black British actor, because unlike the casting that goes on in the United States, I doubt they’ll cast an American and make him put on his best British accent:

“My my my & it only took up to the fourth series to put a non white Actor in the show. That is why Black & Asian Actors go to America as they get more opportunities to become Actors as they are more forward. In England Black & Asian Actors are very limited even though the country is the biggest multi cultural country in the world”

I guess that comment explains why we have Idris Elba. The only two actors I can pick off the top of my head would be David Gyasi, who was in “Cloud Atlas” and Chiwetel Ejiofor, from “Children of Men” and the upcoming film “12 Years a Slave”.

In any event, if you’re into high society period dramas, I’d definitely recommend “Downton Abbey”, and you don’t even need cable television to watch it. Check out your local PBS listings for airing information.

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