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11 September 2012

Downton Abbey: An interview with Sophie McShera (Daisy Robinson)

Daisy Robinson
(Sophie McShera)
© ITV
For someone who has spent two whole series playing a kitchen maid, Sophie McShera, Daisy in Downton Abbey, has picked up surprisingly few culinary skills.

“We tend to pretend a bit more rather than actually making anything. I can make getting peas out of a pan and putting them in a bowl last a whole scene.”

Which is almost a skill in itself. McShera’s Daisy, of course, spends more time niggling with Mrs Patmore, the cook and her boss, than actually cooking. This series, however, Daisy has had enough.

“She was promised a promotion, she’s begged and begged for it, and she starts series three wondering why that hasn’t happened yet. She is a little bit annoyed shall we say. In fact basically she starts behaving like a total bitch!”

Like a stroppy teen might, Daisy instigates her own form of protest. Like a tired mother might, Mrs Patmore puts her fingers in her ears and hopes it will pass.

“Mrs Patmore is an infuriating character who just ignores the whole thing. And that really works - but obviously for Daisy it makes her so much more annoyed. She’s really trying to assert herself as this young woman that should have a proper place in the house. And nobody seems to be listening.”

Add to that the introduction of a rival in the form of a spritely new kitchen maid called Ivy; and the new footman Alfred, who immediately turns her head, and Daisy is not in the happiest of places. Her reaction?

“She does this thing where she sort of tries to be really bossy to Ivy. It’s because she’s emulating how she feels she would be treated in the same position. So she does a bit of Patmore-style bossy-booting! And she enjoys it. She’s playing this part and she relishes bossing Ivy around a bit because there’s a lot of bitterness there - because Ivy’s prettier and everyone fancies her and somehow Daisy’s still bottom of the ladder, even though strictly speaking she’s not any more. Nobody’s paying her any attention. She’s not getting any respect.”

Happier times are only to be found away from Downton Abbey on Mr Mason’s farm.

“I love all the scenes with Paul [Copley, who plays Mr Mason]. Their relationship is just lovely and he is the one person I think, apart from Mrs Patmore, who really cares for her. He is the first person that sees real potential in her and that’s a shock to Daisy. She’s a bit bewildered and a bit panicked but very flattered by his generosity and his kindness.”

McShera is not the first Downton Abbey cast member to describe coming back to film a third series as like going back to school.

“It’s like going back to see your friends. We have so much fun and there’s none of the nerves that you’ve had before. It is just excitement - you’re just dying to get back to everyone and swap stories.”

And she says that the new series will not disappoint.

“As soon as I read the script I had that same feeling, that excitement that I had when I got my first script for the first series in episode 1. And being with [director] Brian Percival again makes us all so happy. You feel like you trust him and you just know this is going to be good. And of course with Julian scripting the stories are brilliant. I can’t wait for everyone to see what happens.”

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