Sad loss for Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery
Week of January 4, 2016
Michelle Dockery
John Dineen and Michelle Dockery.

It’s good to settle down once again on Sunday nights in the company of the Crawleys and their staff and friends, but while we all may be rejoicing over the return of Downton Abbey, we should pause to give a thought to actress Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary in the series. Last month, while the actress was in the U.S to promote Downton’s final season, her fiancé John Dineen lost his battle with cancer at the age of 34.

Michelle Dockery
Dockery and Dineen in the Royal Box at Wimbledon
chatting to James Middleton and his sister Pippa.
June 2014 (Glyn Kirk / AFP / Getty Images)

Despite having been in New York and Washington D.C. just days before his death, Dockery made it back to Ireland to be at Dineen’s side, when he passed away at Marymount Hospice, two days before Dockery’s 34th birthday. At his funeral, held in Billinora, Ireland, Dockery paid tribute to her partner of two years, by singing one of the couples’ favorite songs, "The Folks Who Live on the Hill."

Michelle Dockery
Dockery and Dineen. February 2015.

Dockery first met Dineen – the man she called “my friend, my king, my hero, my everything” – in 2013, when they were introduced by Dineen’s good friend, Allen Leech, who plays Tom Branson in Downton.

Michelle Dockery
Hugh Bonneville, Allen Leech and a guest at
the White House Christmas Party. December 2015.

Leech was also in the U.S. promoting the final series of Downton and while here, he and some of the other cast members were invited to attend a Christmas party at the White House, hosted by President Obama. A friend of mine was also in attendance at the party and reported that when Leech and Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham, saw how shy she was, they immediately put her ease by suggesting she stand between them for a commemorative photograph. As you can see, she soon got over her nerves!

Up next for Leech is a film, Hunter’s Prayer, which is due to be released in the fall of this New Year. In it, Leech plays the former employer of a hired assassin. You can also see Leech in the film The Imitation Game, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.

Downton Abbey season six airs Sunday evenings on MPT at 9pm.

To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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