‘Downton Abbey’ casts first black actor

Posted at 9:10 PM, May 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-01 21:10:12-04

(CNN) — “Downton Abbey’s” bringing on a roster of new cast members for its fourth season.

The addictive British series has tapped Gary Carr (TV’s “Death in Paradise” and “Bluestone 42”) to portray a “charming and charismatic” jazz singer named Jack Ross – “Downton’s” first recurring black character.

“We are delighted to introduce another fantastic, dynamic character to ‘Downton Abbey,'” executive producer Gareth Neame said in a statement. “His addition will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can’t wait for viewers to see in [season] four.”

Creator Julian Fellowes told the U.K.’s Telegrah last year that he was interested in adding black or Indian characters, noting it would be “rather nice to open it up ethnically a bit.”

Carr will be joined by six other new faces, including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Dame Harriet Walter.

Shirley MacLaine will also be back to reprise her role as Martha Levinson, and stars Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery and Jim Carter.

By Breeanna Hare

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