It may be PBS, but even they know that beefcake is a key component among the mix of program elements (especially when asking for donations from viewers). The hunks of Downton Abbey made the viewing experience just a bit sweeter, and the divas added a touch of spice. And although most men of any social class would look great in formal wear, DA's heartthrob characters listed below still maintained their debonair good looks even in more casual attire - or no clothing at all.
THE HEART THROBS
Dark and swarthy is what I prefer, but even I was smitten by the charming and dashing Matthew. And what a pity Dan Stevens, the actor who portrayed him, left for Broadway and Hollywood, because that decision proved fateful for his beloved character.
Of course, if Matthew hadn't been killed off, the delectable Tony Gillingham wouldn't have been introduced (nor Charles Blake, see below). But when he and Lady Mary spent the night together at the hotel in Liverpool, what was it about Tony's bedroom performance, or pillow talk, that made Mary decide that they wouldn't be a good fit?
In addition to being a footman, James saw himself as a bit of a gigilo. He was also the object of Thomas' affections, which was revealed to all when Thomas made the moves on him, thanks to O'Brien's scheming .
Thomas became a bit thicker in the middle in the show's last few seasons - perhaps as homophobia took its toll?
He professed his deep affection for Lady Mary at the same time as Tony Gillingham. He would have been a good partner for Lady Mary because his personality was similar to that of Matthew's.
Mr. Drewe, a farmer who never smiled (perhaps it was due to his wife obsessing over Marigold and ignoring her own children). I was always hoping for a scene that found him with his shirt off, or at least unbuttoned, but it never happened.
Tom was kind and smart, with the sweetest Irish brogue. Like Thomas, his sex appeal diminished somewhat as he put on a few pounds in the last two seasons (after this scene was shot).
Ross was the American jazz singer who stole Lady Rose's heart. Lady Mary kindly, but firmly, saw to it that he called off his engagement to Rose.
Ah, the dashing Mr. Pamuk from Turkey. Although he appeared in just one episode, his ill-fated ravishing of Lady Mary in her bedroom in the third episode of Season 1 will not soon be forgotten.
You may have noticed that Henry Talbot is not one of the hunks. It's because he left me cold. While I loved watching any scene between Lady Mary and Matthew, or her and Tony Gillingham or Charles Blake, I didn't feel any sparks between Mary and Henry - despite their professed passion for each other.
THE DIVAS (AND BITCHES)
Yes, she was responsible for Cora's miscarriage and for urging Thomas to make a play for Jimmy that nearly got him fired, but truth be told, I was as upset by her departure (she went to India) as I was with Matthew's death.
I liked Mary. Despite her occasional imperious manner and utter contempt towards sister Edith, she consistently showed kindness and compassion to others, upstairs as well as downstairs. And she was always the epitome of style.
The Dowager's butler, Spratt was like a 7-year-old, always pouting and complaining openly to her. For whatever reason the Dowager put up with him.
A second appearance by Mr. Barrow! (Matthew also had his diva moments). He was always scheming and then feeling sorry for himself.
The Dowager Countess
The Dowager (Violet or Granny to family members) did not suffer fools gladly. She did, however, enjoy sparring with cousin Isobel. Based on the kerfuffle over the town's hospital, it's likely she would not be a fan of Obamacare.
Like the Dowager, Carson was resistant to change. He was loyal to Robert and tender with Mary, but he could be a prick with most everyone else.
She offered wise counsel to all of her nieces and knew how to get a rise out of her brother, Robert, and their mother, Violet. The fact that she was unlucky in love might have been at the root of her occasional bitchiness.