Why I’m leav­ing DOWN­TON

Most ac­tors would give their right arm for a part on the big­gest show on tele­vi­sion. But Sa­man­tha Bond re­veals she’s had enough of Lady Rosamund...

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FEATURE - Re­becca Hardy

Sa­man­tha Bond has had it with Down­ton Abbey. The ac­tress, who plays Lord Gran­tham’s sis­ter, Lady Rosamund, says she’s fed up with ‘pop­ping in and out’. Given that the show has been sold all over the world and made mil­lions for ITV, you could be for­given for think­ing its stars are play­ing hard­ball over their con­tracts — there are ru­mours Sa­man­tha’s good friend Mag­gie Smith is threat­en­ing to leave. What is cer­tain is that when the third se­ries airs this au­tumn, Lady Rosamund will def­i­nitely not be pop­ping in any­where.

‘I didn’t want to do the flut­ter­ing in and out,’ she says. ‘The Christ­mas episode [in which Lady Rosamund, pur­sued by Nigel Havers’ Lord Hep­worth, stayed long enough to have a waltz] was lovely. If some­thing hap­pened to change the cir­cum­stances of the fam­ily and she was there more… But, be­cause of the na­ture of the part, you just pop in and pop out so I’d have been un­able to come to the West End and play the fe­male lead in this play.’

‘This play’ is Joe Or­ton’s farce What The But­ler Saw, with Black­ad­der’s Tim Mcin­nerny. She’s been re­hears­ing for most of the day when we meet and is ex­hausted. ‘Tim and I were talk­ing about plans for the week­end. I said, “Do you know what I’m ex­cited about? Ly­ing in the bath.” Ev­ery mus­cle I have hurts. No one can pre­tend the age­ing process is charm­ing be­cause it isn’t,’ she says, adding that to­day she feels ‘ev­ery one of my 50 years’.

Not that she tries to fight it. When we meet she’s not wear­ing a scrap of make-up. ‘This whole face thing,’ she sighs, ‘I can’t pre­tend I don’t sit there do­ing this...’ she pulls her face back. ‘But I’m re­ally try­ing to go with it. If I pop off and do some­thing dras­tic, ev­ery­one’s go­ing to re­alise be­cause they know I’m 50.’

The ac­tress, who also ap­pears as Aun­tie An­gela in the BBC fam­ily sit­com Out­num­bered, has been mar­ried for 23 years to ac­tor Alex Han­son with whom she has two chil­dren, Molly, 20, and Tom, 19. She is prob­a­bly best known as Moneypenny from the 007 films — or, specif­i­cally, the Moneypenny who ‘snogged’ Pierce Bros­nan’s James Bond in Die An­other Day. ‘Oh Pierce was fun,’ she says. ‘The kiss was great. It took all morn­ing. Be­cause it was cin­e­matic his­tory — no one ever ex­pected James Bond to kiss Moneypenny — the whole of Pinewood stopped film­ing and came to watch.’

Sa­man­tha says she’ll miss work­ing with Mag­gie Smith on Down­ton. ‘I love her evil hu­mour. If you were hav­ing to play scenes in Down­ton with Mags and didn’t know her pre­vi­ously, it would be ter­ri­fy­ing be­cause there’s no time to get to know her. I keep try­ing to chan­nel her for this play be­cause she’d be hi­lar­i­ous in my part.’

Be­low: Sa­man­tha with Mag­gie Smith in Down­ton Abbey

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