After Dublin, he won a scholarship to London’s Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, given by Dame Judi Dench. His mother, he recalls, said she was ‘walking on air’ when he told her of his achievement and acting became his ‘driving force’ – ‘a religion of sorts’.Sometimes I think I missed out on things like travelling. I didn’t start a family because that’s not something I take lightly. It was a combination of being driven to get the gig, and also to express myself.We know he had a drink problem, was imprisoned for theft and gave up on love.But we also know him to be a decent man and how our hearts soared when the kindly housemaid Anna Smith fell in love with him. But Brendan Coyle, the Bafta-nominated actor who plays him, isn’t.
‘I took a gamble in becoming an actor and my dream job has been realised.
Now, how we yearn for a happy ending.‘There’s something of the noble savage about Bates,’ says Brendan.
‘He hadn’t thought falling in love and marriage was an option.
Watching that possibility flower and grow is very appealing. Anyway, when you see Dan Stevens [as dashing young solicitor Matthew Crawley] in a uniform, it’s all over for me.’Brendan says his character is a changed man this time around.
But if Bates is a sex symbol, it’s because of the romance Julian has written into the script. ‘Bates is the lynchpin of the new series and we get to see his darker side.