Five Downton Abbey stars sign new deals

Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Allen Leech and Laura Carmichael have signed new three-year 'Downton Abbey' deals

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Hugh Bonneville

Hugh Bonneville

Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern have signed new three-year 'Downton Abbey' deals.

Show bosses have handed the pair - who portray Lord and Lady Grantham in the ITV period drama - huge contracts in a bid to stop them leaving for Hollywood, and Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley), Allen Leech (Tom Branson) and Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith Crawley) have also put pen to paper on new deals.

A source told The Sun newspaper: "Downton's charm is tradition so bosses were desperate to secure the show's big names. All the major characters are now on big deals.

"It was also important to keep Allen. His role has grown considerably since he started as the chauffeur and you will see him more and more."

Allen's role on the show is to increase in the forthcoming fourth series with Tom growing closer to Mary following the death of her husband Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) from a car crash on Christmas Day (25.12.12).

The source added: "The relationship with Tom and Mary gets stronger as they're unified with their grief.

"Tom understands what she's going through and tries to help her through that mire of grief and sorrow.

"The show for Tom this year sees him find his place within that household."

Several stars, including former 'EastEnders' actor Nigel Harman, have joined the cast following Matthew's departure and Allen believes the new additions have brought a fresh feel to 'Downton'.

Speaking at the launch of the show's fourth season in London yesterday (13.08.13), Allen said: "I think like any show your characters come and go and it definitely brings it a new lease of life and a new energy as well.

"It definitely makes it very exciting with all these new faces we have."

Speaking about Matthew's sudden death, Executive Producer Gareth Neame added: "I'm conscious I brought 10 million Christmas Days to a sudden and abrupt end.

"What was actually a gentle episode of a holiday, suddenly there was a sting in the tail. But these are the moments and the stuff of this kind of drama.

"It is romantic, hopefully laugh out loud funny at times and has got dramatic stories with twists and turns. As shocking as that was, there are life and death situations that will happen to any family from time to time."

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