Downton Abbey's Jim Carter

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of March 21, 2016

Jim Carter
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson, with
Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes

Downton Abbey may have concluded, but it doesn’t mean we can’t still "chat" about the actors in the series. This week, for instance, we’ll take a look at Jim Carter who played the formidable butler Mr. Carson.

Born in Harrogate, 67-year-old Carter has been acting professionally since the late 1960s, when he dropped out of university where he was studying law, to join an avant-garde theatre group in Brighton. He was paid the grand sum of five pounds a week, but the job did include free board and lodging. Since that time every penny the hard working 6’ 2” Yorkshireman has earned has come from acting.

Jim Carter
Carter as Juliet's Nurse in Shakespeare in Love

While Carson may be the role Carter is best known for, his list of screen credits and stage performances is extensive. You might, for instance, have seen him in the films The Madness of King George (1994), Shakespeare in Love (1998), and The Golden Compass (2007). His most recent film was in 2011 in the film My Week with Marilyn, which starred a host of other familiar faces, including Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Kitchen and Derek Jacobi. Carter also has getting on for a hundred television credits to his name; including Masterpiece’s Cranford (2007), where he played Captain Brown.

Working on Cranford was a family affair for Carter as it also starred his wife, Imelda Staunton and their then teenage daughter, Bessie. Carter and Staunton have been married since 1983, having met in 1982 when they were rehearsing Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre in London. In 1987 the couple were in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Wizard of Oz; Staunton played Dorothy and Carter played the Cowardly Lion. They also appeared together in the previously mentioned film Shakespeare in Love – Carter was Juliet's Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, the play within the film and Staunton played the Nurse to Gwyneth Paltrow’s character Viola de Lessop. Inspired casting!

Jim Carter
Imelda Staunton, Carter's wife, as
Viola's Nurse in Shakespeare in Love

When not acting, Carter enjoys the game of cricket and is the former chairman of Hampstead Cricket Club. He also is a keen cyclist and over the last few years he’s cycled for a number of charitable causes. In 2011, for instance Carter travelled to Ghana where he cycled for six days to raise money for clean water in the impoverished town of Tafo. In 2014 he spent pedaled through Madagascar to raise money for Richard House Children’s Hospice. Some of the other places he’s ridden his bike for charity include Jordan, Costa Rica, Laos, Vietnam, India, Nambia, Chile and Argentina, all of which were to raise money for the National Deaf Children's Society.

Carter’s latest charitable cause is WandAid, an organization he helped start that uses magic, music and entrepreneurs to raise awareness and funds for the Linda Cruise Foundation; an organization that empowers and aids communities impacted by natural disaster, political crisis and disadvantage. Carter’s most recent appearances for WandAid were just last month in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and the greater Boston area, where he hosted several fundraising events for victims of the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal.

You can see a video clip of Carter performing magic tricks for the children of Cross Roads House Homeless Shelter in Portsmouth in this on-line newspaper article, published by Seacoast Newspapers.

To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
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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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