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17 September 2012

Downton Abbey: An interview with Cara Theobold (Ivy Stuart)

Ivy Stuart
(Cara Theobold)
© ITV
Cara Theobold’s acting CV currently reads one audition, one job.

“Downton Abbey is the only audition I’ve ever had. I left my final year at drama school early, at Easter, and came straight to this. Before I went to drama school I hadn’t had any professional experience whatsoever. So to get something like this is incredible... I don’t think it will ever sink in.”

Theobold, from Wakefield, plays Ivy, the new kitchen maid.

“Ivy is a young Yorkshire lass. She previously worked as a Maid of All Work for a shopkeeper in Malton and then her Mum put her up for the job wanting her to better herself and work at the glorious Downton Abbey. She got the job as the new kitchen maid, so she is essentially doing Daisy’s old jobs.”

This means that Daisy, previously the lowest rung on the ladder, now has someone of her own to boss about.

“Ivy is just your typical young girl, very curious and enjoys meeting people but gets bashed down a bit by Daisy. She is the kind of girl who couldn’t possibly understand why anyone wouldn’t like her,” says Theobold, although the fact that Ivy likes to flirt with both of the two new footmen, Alfred and Jimmy, probably doesn’t endear her to Daisy.

Theobald had her audition before Christmas last year.

“I found out that I had got a recall and then I spent the Christmas holidays with all my family on tenterhooks because my parents are such massive fans of the show. I had a few more rounds and then got the part and here I am. It is amazing. I couldn’t be more thrilled. I am a massive fan of the show myself anyway. And just to be able to be in such an ensemble and get to be in a scene and watch Jim Carter do his stuff is like ‘Oh my god – I am actually here!’”

She says the rest of the cast have made her feel right at home.

“Everyone is so welcoming and lovely and I couldn’t ask for a better first experience. Because everybody is a unit and they have worked together for two years and genuinely are like a family, it is quite easy to take newcomers on board. I think Matt [Milne] and Ed [Speleers] have found the same. They are such a lovely group of people it’s quite easy to just tag along and slot in and I have had nothing but a good time. I can’t believe it.”

Not only has Theobold landed her dream role on one of television’s biggest shows, but she’s picked up some new skills along the way.

“I’ve learned how to make jam. And I am now a dab hand at whisking. I can even shell peas now. I had never shelled a pea before.”

As a fan of the show she says she was excited just to visit the sets, let alone call them her workplace.

“The first day I was in the kitchen. I came in and I thought, ‘Oh, it is actually a kitchen!’ Water comes out of the taps. The oven heats up and it is so beautiful and the detail, I mean I just love all that. You feel immediately like, ‘Gosh, I am a maid in the kitchen’. The detail makes you feel you are in that world.”

But with her parents big fans she says she has had to warn them about fishing for plot spoilers.

“I tell them, ‘If I told you anything I’d have to kill you!’ I like being dramatic about not letting them know anything but they are just thrilled. And to be honest my Mum really doesn’t want to know what happens because she is such a big fan. She just can’t wait to watch it.”

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