Just as Kevin Doyle (Mr. Molesley) found that there is life beyond Downton Abbey with his current gig as Colonel Roland Brett in the World War I drama, The Crimson Field, such is also the case also for Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Lady Sybil in Downton. While Doyle has the security of knowing he will still be berated weekly by Mr. Carson during the upcoming series of Downton Abbey, Brown-Findlay exited during series 3. Like co-star Dan Stevens, both left the the drama juggernaut for the glitz and glamour of what is called ‘unchartered waters’.
With Downton Abbey firmly in her rear-view mirror, Jessica Brown-Findlay takes on the role of Daphne du Maurier’s spirited heroine Mary in the BBC’s new adaptation of Jamaica Inn. Set in 1821 on the Cornish coast, Jamaica Inn tells the story of Mary Yellan, played by Brown-Findlay, who lives with ghostly Aunt Patience (Joanne Whalley) after her mother died. Mary finds Aunt Patience under the spell of her husband (and Mary’s criminal uncle), Joss Merlyn (Sean Harris), after she arrives at Jamaica Inn. She soon realizes that the inn has no guests which is where it starts to get a bit strange as Mary is drawn into a world of smuggling and romance.
Like Kevin Doyle, who is relishing his role in The Crimson Field where he gets to give orders as opposed to take them, Brown-Findlay was excited at the prospect to step away from the ‘fluffy, girly, boring stuff’ of Downton and be a part of Jamaica Inn, where the lead was a heroine, a woman.
Written by Emma Frost (The White Queen) and filmed in and around Cornwall (Holywell Bay and Bodmin Moor), Yorkshire and the Cumbrian town of Kirkby Lonsdale, Jamaica Inn will premiere later this month on BBC One and, tentatively, on public television in America in 2015.