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The Downton Abbey Character Fans Are Relieved Changed Over Time

When it came to the United States in 2011, Julian Fellowes' "Downton Abbey" might have seemed like an unlikely international hit. Was a prim and proper period piece about a wealthy British family and their village of servants really going to hold its own against the heart-pounding intensity "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead?" On the other side of six seasons, two series-inspired films, 15 Emmy awards, and several consistently sold-out "Downton Abbey"-themed vacation packages, it's safe to say it not only held its own, but carved out quite a space for itself and its legacy with audiences all over the world. 

The series' success came from a number of sources. For starters, from James Cameron and Baz Lurhman movies, to wedding Pinterest boards, to Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey lyrics, modern audiences have long had an affinity for the decadence and intrigue of the early 20th century (albeit a frequently reductive and aesthetically-centered affinity). What's more, it helped that the series boasted global treasure Maggie Smith, and maintained a detailed and fascinating focus on the real-life decorum and mechanics of the era. 

More than any of these elements, though, it was Fellowes' ability to breath believable life into the era via complex characters and relationships that set it apart. Viewers ate it up when a former antagonist did something noble (or vice versa), and in the case of one cherished character, they were relieved to find that beneath her hard exterior lay an empathetic and compassionate core. 

Downton Abbey fans were happy to see Mrs. Patmore soften up

That character is none other than the formidable and inimitable Beryl/Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol), the head cook at Downton Abbey. From the first scenes of the series, we know that Mrs. Patmore isn't one to suffer fools gladly. Her staunch, harsh treatment of her assistant, Daisy (Sophie McShera), provides audiences with their first insight into the dynamics of the abbey's enormous staff, and into how seriously they take their work. Nevertheless, as a thread on the r/DowntonAbbey subreddit suggests, many were relieved to find that Mrs. Patmore would eventually prove as loving, endearing, and sympathetic a character as any, despite her harsh introduction. 

Referring specifically to the cook's relationship with her protégé, u/lydiagracemay7447 wrote, "[It's] so good how [Patmore] softened as [the] series went on until it became more like a mother-daughter relationship." Other fans agreed. "I was getting ready to really dislike her," u/Psychological_Low386 wrote of the character, a feeling echoed by u/daughterofadog, who said, "Same! I'm really glad they abandoned that attitude. I love [Patmore] later on." 

Others pointed out that Mrs. Patmore had her reasons. Several alluded to the training she herself would have undergone in order to become a cook. At the same time, many reminded others on the thread that she thinks she's losing her sight in Season 1, and the fear of losing her livelihood manifests in her lashing out at the younger, more physically fit Daisy. Thankfully, the bond between the two servants only grows stronger as the seasons progress, as McShera and Nicol revealed in an interview.

McShera and Nicol always knew Mrs. Patmore loved Daisy

Speaking to What to Watch in 2015, the actors explained that even when their characters appear to be at odds, they maintain a deep love and respect for one another. In the series' final season, the educated Daisy begins to push back against her mentor, but no amount of pressure can weaken the pair's bond. "The dynamic has become different," Lesley Nicol told the outlet, later adding, "Mrs. Patmore's protective love of Daisy certainly hasn't gone away. They're just more challenging to each other." 

Sophie McShera agreed. "That's the joy of this relationship," she explained, noting that "[Patmore and Daisy] can really be vile to each other and really fall out, but you never fear that they're not going to come back together." Nicol built on her co-star's assessment, adding that the relationship was "pretty accurate for mothers and daughters ... they love each other to bits but can be vile." 

It may have taken viewers until Season 2 to see the love behind Mrs. Patmore's nasty pedagogical approach, but it seems the actors understood it all along. So, too, did Reddit user u/ademnus, who called their dynamic "one of the sweeter relationships in the show," adding that "behind the admonishments ... is a [woman] who has no family feeling very maternal about young Daisy." Since both characters are set to appear in the upcoming "Downton Abbey: A New Era" (via IMDb), audiences won't have to wait long to see how much the two have grown since the 2015 series finale