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Manningham actress Sophie McShera tells of goings-on in new series of Downton Abbey
Bradford actress Sophie McShera reveals that her character almost poisons the lords and ladies at Downton Abbey during the new series of the hit drama, starting this Sunday.
A former pupil of St Joseph’s College, Manningham, Sophie, 28, has played kitchen maid Daisy Mason since the first series of the period drama, set above and below stairs in a Yorkshire household.
Daisy’s position at the bottom of the servants’ hierarchy means she is often at the receiving end of cook Mrs Patmore’s quick temper, but Sophie said she and actress Lesley Nicol, who plays the cook, are close friends and quite a double-act on the set.
“I love the relationship between Mrs Patmore and Daisy,” she said. “When Mrs Patmore is sent to London for an operation to help her failing eyesight, she asks Daisy to make sure the stand-in cook doesn’t impress too much upon the family and usurp her position.
“Even though she is horrid to me she does love Daisy deep down, and she’s very maternal towards her – sometimes being cruel to be kind. Daisy’s really loyal to Mrs Patmore, which you see when Daisy almost poisons the family and their guests at dinner!”
Mrs Patmore also tries to warn Daisy off her misguided affections for devious footman Thomas.
“One of my favourite scenes is when she’s trying to explain to Daisy that Thomas isn’t everything she thinks he is and that she should turn her attentions to William instead, but Daisy just doesn’t get it,” said Sophie.
Thomas takes advantage of Daisy’s feelings and persuades her to lie to the butler Carson, resulting in good-natured valet Mr Bates being accused of theft.
“Daisy stupidly tells Thomas that she would do anything for him and ends up telling a huge lie for him that could have catastrophic implications,” revealed Sophie.
As a teenager, Sophie was in Emmerdale and Waterloo Road before landing her role in Downton Abbey, starring alongside Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville. The multi award-winning drama has been a huge hit both sides of the Atlantic.
Sophie’s acting career took off when, aged 12, she was sent by her youth club to London to audition for a play called The Goodbye Girl. Being a fan of US TV show Saved By The Bell helped Sophie pull off an American accent for her audition and before she knew it she was on stage at The Palladium.
She is fond of Daisy, despite it being an unglamorous role.
“Daisy is first up every morning and her duties include waking the female staff, lighting the fires below stairs then sneaking into the family’s bedrooms to light their fires. Setting and lighting the fires is the noisiest job and I have to do it all silently, for fear of waking anyone,” she said.
“The props master asked if I wanted to carry a basket with pretend logs but I wanted to make it as realistic as possible so I’m carrying heavy props around – but only for a few minutes at a time.”
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