Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt Defends Rape Storyline: 'It Wasn't About Viewing Figures'

Joanne Froggatt talks about Downton’s shock storyline from a modern woman’s perspective

Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates in Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates in Downton Abbey
(Image credit: Rex)

Joanne Froggatt talks about Downton’s shock storyline from a modern woman’s perspective

Joanne Froggatt has continued to defend Downton Abbey's shock storyline that shook the nation earlier this month.

The ITV show was met with a wave of emotion – both good and bad - as audiences reacted to the rape storyline that centres on Joanne’s character, Anne Bates, in series 4.

Joanne was quick to defend the controversial plot, which saw Anna attacked by guest servant Green, and has since admitted she was surprised by viewers’ responses.

"We all expected there to be a certain controversy when we tackled that subject matter, but I didn't expect it to be quite as controversial as it has been," the British actress told PA

"I felt all along that we'd handled it very sensitively and I hope people see that as the episodes carry on. I am very proud of the way that Downton as a show has handled that, and I'm very proud of the fact they decided to tackle such an important issue."

She added: “And the feedback so far has been very positive, so I hope people see it for what it is in the fact that Julian [Fellowes] really wanted to explore the emotional journey of those characters after the event.

"It’s not just a shocking storyline to try and get viewing figures."

Joanne also admitted her own frustrations with the storyline. Asked if Mr Green, who viewers know is guilty, would be brought to justice, she said: "This is something I wanted to know myself, because as a modern woman you want the character to tell somebody. Please tell somebody, and let the character get his comeuppance.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey
(Image credit: ITV Pictures)

"But our historic adviser talked me through remembering being a woman in that time period, and all a woman had was her reputation and that was it. If she lost her reputation she lost everything - her job, her husband, her family.

"And in those day unfortunately the public still had the mindset of 'There's no smoke without fire', 'He's a man he can't control himself', all things we in this day and age find repulsive to think of. But for Anna there's so much at stake."

Have you been gripped by this Downton storyline? Let us know in the comments box below…

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