Taking a cue from Bruce Wayne, PBS's Downton Abbey will introduce a manservant named Alfred in January's season premiere. The new footman, played by Matt Milne (War Horse), takes the place of the late William and the newly promoted Thomas.
"He is a contentious figure right from the start because he is the nephew of O'Brien, the ladies' maid, who has shoe-horned him in," says creator Julian Fellowes. Adds executive producer Gareth Neame, "Alfred worked silver service at a hotel and tries to serve that way, which would never be done in a home. It really rattles Carson." Further complicating matters, Lord Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) has lost the family fortune and fears he can't afford the new hire.
Also happening in the manor: Thomas' closeted gay life lands him in hot water when he makes a move on a new character who is unreceptive to his advances. "Soliciting for immoral purposes was an imprisonable crime," says Fellowes. And the supersize season finale will find the family doing something we haven't yet seen — taking a summer vacation. Adds Bonneville, "We leave the house and go somewhere else for a period, with only some of the staff invited."