As the most popular show to air on PBS — pulling in about 24 million viewers in its third season — it’s hardly a surprise that Downton Abbey fans take the show seriously. Maybe too seriously at times.
Many viewers took it hard when the character Matthew Crawley, played by actor Dan Stevens, was killed in car accident at the end of season three of the series, which also airs on ITV in the UK. But actress Michelle Dockery, who plays Crawley’s wife Lady Mary on the British costume drama, told the Observer in an interview that after the death of her onscreen husband, some fans were so rattled that they sent her letters, packages and “even bereavement cards.” The 31-year-old British actress said, “People will consider me a part of their lives for however long Downton Abbey lasts. It’s a lovely thing to feel as an actor.”
Season four of the series will feature Dockery’s character dealing with her husband’s death and is set to air on Jan. 5.