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Downton Abbey, ITV1: Death of Lady Sybil | reviews, news & interviews

Downton Abbey, ITV1: Death of Lady Sybil

Downton Abbey, ITV1: Death of Lady Sybil

A Crawley is killed off by Julian Fellowes to jolly things along. Who's next for the chop?

Jessica Brown Findlay is available for work

You suspected she was a goner the moment the doctors started to front up like King Kong and Godzilla. Having given birth to a girl, the rebellious bluestocking Lady Sybil got her marching orders last night on Downton Abbey and Jessica Brown Findlay’s husky larynx will be heard no more pouring oil on troubled waters. The rest of the cast can rely on a berth in Julian Fellowes’ gilded prison for all eternity. Ms Brown Findlay is available for work.

Seasoned Downtonians should have known something of this order was on the cards. The second series was absolutely rife with death and doom and characters dropping like flies, what with the war and that. The third series has been a bit, if we are honest, wanting. Slightly staid, m'lud. The estate was in trouble but has been rescued by a deus ex machina waving a cheque. The oven blew up necessitating a fork dinner in the drawing room. Or was it the library? There's naff-all fire in the marriage of square peg Matthew and his bride Lady Mary. Lady Sybil and her Fenian husband got into a bit of a fix in Dublin, but offstage. Meanwhile, Bates’ extended stay at His Majesty’s pleasure rumbles on, and you can set your watch by his release in the Christmas episode. And then in a storyline which landed out of nowhere from the real world, the other week poor old Lady Edith was left high and dry at the altar.

If Lady Sibyl’s violent passing has an antecedent it is the death of Little Nell

She was back to normal in a jiffy, as is the Downton way: the plots allow characters to recover from trauma with indecent haste in order to make ready for the next hourlong portion. To quote Beyond the Fringe, the gods of soap needed a stupid gesture at this point in the third series. It was Lady Sibyl who was anointed for the task of going over the top with a fatal dose of post-partum eclampsia. The symptoms were missed by Sir Thingy Nabob (Tim Pigott-Smith), the obstetrician to the nobs summoned up from Harley Street to oversee the delivery, while the advice of family medic Dr Clarkson, he being not quite posh enough, was quietly ignored by his Lordship. Oops. Here was an important indication that in the 1920s the aristocracy cannot rely on The Old Certainties. Why, in one short scene Maggie Smith in black weeds even stopped sending her eyebrows into orbit. And next week they’re all going to be in a bit of strop.

If Lady Sibyl’s violent passing has an antecedent it is the death of Little Nell, an event which found an entire nation stricken with grief, with the honourable exception of Oscar Wilde who said you’d need a heart of stone not to laugh. Who’s next for Fellowes' guillotine? Thomas to swing for indecency? Ethel, back from the moral brink, spontaneously to combust in the kitchen? Lady Cora to die of fright when she finds her backbone?

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I'm still recovering from the shock. It's such a great show, but I'm kind of hating Julian Fellowes for this.

Personally, I'm reeling from the totally unexpected, sheer stunning shock of it all. Who on earth would have expected Sybil to pop her cloggs after that solemn, death-bed - sorry, 'bedside' farewell with her mother? Much less after the haughty Harley St toff basically accused the decent village doctor of being a self-important, interfering little quack? I'm just gobsmacked. Next thing you'll be telling me that Lady Mary's going to have trouble conceiving, or that Bates will be released in the Christmas Special. You've got to hand it to this Julian Fellowes cove, his dialogue may be more leaden than a Victorian drainpipe but as the master of the Bleedin' Obvious, he has no equal.

Extremely well said. 'More leaden than a Victorian drainpipe': may one borrow that for future use somewhere?

Oh, you've spoiled it now. D'you mean to say that Bates is actually going to get off in the end (in the sense of being released, not by reason of a conjugal visit. Obviously.)?


The death of Sybil felt far too exploitative of the audience's attachment to the kindest character (hell, even Thomas cried). It was just far too obviously a desperate grasp for a dire plot on Julian Fellowes' part. He didn't want anyone to consider it a soap, so he kills off one of the most open-for-development characters he's got left. Christ, if we haven't all had enough of the Bates-in-prison routine, "then I'm a monkey's uncle," to quote Tom. Oh, poor Tom. At least Sybil's death with provide us with something: more plot for Tom. I'm happy for Tom's chance now, but disappointed that Fellowes couldn't develop the poor lad without killing off his wife. Really, it was just a pathetically obvious plot device on Fellowes' end. Seriously, someone needs to train him on preventing transparencies like that.

Honestly, this show has seriously lost a fan. Way to kill off the most likeable character. Sybil was probably the most ready to develop character in the show. I was really looking forward to seeing what the writers would have done with her...so much for that. Also her and Tom are (or should i say were) the best and most entertaining couple to watch. They were real and definitely the most likeable. The death screamed that the show got lost and has a serious lack of creativity. In their attempts to spice up the show they directed the drama at the wrong character and have clearly lost audience members. Seriously go whack off edith if you need excitement.

God,Julian Fellowes must be desprate to kill off Lady Sybil. I know its not real but I feel queasy and sad after watching. Want a remake Julian?

For God's sake Julian. There are enough angry people to start a mob. Or at least a petition. Bring back Sybil!

How can he bring her back? She's dead.

Pretty sure she was killed off cuz she wants to be a movie star. Lay off the writer, he's working with what he's got. If Branson's not leaving the show, and Sybil is, they aren't gonna just send Sybil away and keep Branson around. They have to kill her off to make it work. Blame the actress... and if you really miss her that much, she'll be available for your viewing pleasure in the next captain america movie.

All the people who say they are not going to watch Downton Abbey anymore just because they killed off Lady Sybil are just dumb. Lady Sybil was my favourite character too, but I'm still going to watch the show, because Downton Abbey is not focus on Lady Sybil, it is focus on a group of characters and all these characters are as interesting as Sybil. If Julian Fellowes has killed off Lady Sybil it's because the actress has decided to leave the show, so don't blame Julian, blame the actress if you are unhappy. And if you ask me, the death of Lady Sybil has been one of the most heart-breaking and perfectly made death I've ever seen in TV, although death in childbirth is kind of a topic. So stop complaining, because Downton Abbey is in its best moment, and if you are not going to watch the show anymore because of a death, go and cry babies.

Wait until they watch the Christmas special.

Yes, I agree. I will miss Sybil, but I find all the characters interesting. I especially like Shirley MacLaine's character. I hope they bring her back. I wonder if Daisy is going to leave the show. Will she accept the farm? Will she fall in love with the tall red-headed footman, or the new blond guy? There is a lot of potential there, and I really hope they keep her as a character, while she goes and learns how to run a farm.

The actress wanted out and the writers had no choice but to have her die. At least she left behind her daughter. The family will now accept him as one of their own. After all, his daughter is one of them!

I'm American so I've not seen what happens after Lady Sybil's death, but I'm not quite sure that Branson will be welcomed as "one of them" because his daughter is. Well, the Crawleys are a bit nicer than Mr. Bryant, but I can't help but think how little he seems to care for Ethel, though she is little Charlie's mom. We'll see. But since he's wanting to be a revolutionary, he probably should leave the baby at Downton. Or maybe he will give the revolution a rest for a while. Parenthood can do that sort of thing.

How can they kill off one of the best characters on this mini-series? I don't usually cry anymore when movie characters die on television series, but this was different. In fact, I could have tolerated Lady Edith's death without shedding a tear, but Sybil, who was the most humane, sensitive, and loving of the entire family?! No. I just read that Jessica Brown Findlay asked to be released, however, Julian could have written her off by her and her husband joining the foreign legion or some out of the blue persuasion. No, he had to reduce half the nation to tears and grief. So smart. The good news is that now you can see Jessica Findlay in "Labyrinth" if it ever makes it to the U.S. This movie is about the quest of the Holy Grail. That's all folks, and sorry to see Lady Sybil go. This season of Downton is not going well at all. What happened to Julian's unique style? The script is failing and needs help. I volunteer to set it right. Any father or mother would have tried to save her like the doctor David Robb. Am not over this. Cecilia~

Fellowes didn't want to kill Sybil or Matthew off. But their contrcts were up for renewal and they opted out. I think that's silly when you consider the rest of the crew will live forever off the residuals. The show is already in reruns and DVD and will be rerun hundreds of time (ka-ching). But, Fellowes did the best he could but a bad situation. To have kept either of them around in limbo wouldn't have worked. Can you really see Matthew living in London and visiting his son on the weekends? And how does he do that when he's the HEIR - he has to be at Downton. This way their love will live in legend forever.

If one takes up watching a soap opera you should expect soap opera happenings. If you need a Jessica Brown Findlay fix you will be able to watch her in an upcoming major motion picture.

Well, I found the episode accurate in it's rendering of the condition of postpartum eclampsia, and very moving. I applaud Julian Fellowes for using the opportunity to shed light on a condition that remains somewhat mysterious even to this day. My only criticism would be that both doctors stood by, while their patient died, neither administering magnesium sulphate, which was known to be effective, as early as 1905.

I am so mad at Julien Fellowes for killing Sybil. He has ruined the show! The balance of good and nasty characters is gone. The show is doomed. We don't have anyone to love. Boo Julien boo hoo.

I'm just so sad that I haven't recovered and it's Tues. I know it's not real but it's just SO.....SAD! I must soldier on in my life but the loss is palpable. It is shocking how attached we all got to a fictional character. The death scene had me frantic. Also, I agree this Bates in prison story line is getting old. How much suffering can he and Anna take?

I sure was sad to see Lady Sybil die on the show BUT...I am a true DOWNTON ABBY fan and I will be back every Sunday night to see more. As I've watched this cast of wonderful actors over the past three seasons I feel like I've become apart of the Downton family. FABULOUS show! Wish we had more like this one. YAY Downton Abby!

How has NO ONE commented on the worst writing offence of all? The Olympian level of IceQueensmanship (har) that Lady Mary has achieved whilst standing over her dead sister, and glibly delivering the sure-to-be infamous "I doubt it" line. And the Gold Medal in stupid, selfish insensitivity goes to...! New low there, Mary Mary quite contrary.

So upset to see her leave, as she was one of my favorites. Now, Matthew will be leaving. I think Julian Fellows is a wonderful writer, as is everyone else working on the show, but if the show is to going to continue to be successful, the 'stars' we've expected to see need to be there. Perhaps the casting director needed to get a longer contract w/ these relatively unknown stars to stay on Downton longer. Hollywood isn't going anywhere, and the atmosphere there (LA) is a far cry from the set & people of Downton. BTW, I usually love Shirley McLaine, but wow, did she not work in that role. Couldn't wait for her to get off the series-please keep her away. Yes, the audience likes change, as do the actors, but w/ all the latest tragedies, it's becoming a bit too much like a distressing reality show, and nothing like what season 1 & 2 brought us. Hey Julian & artists, pls give your fans a break. Of course Dan Stevens has made his decision, but I wish in season 4, he could have just started traveling for business, so we'd see him from time to time. TOO MANY people dying-enough! Anyone else leaves & I may, too.

Is there some sort of law against hiring a different actor to play a role?

First, Lady Sybil was the only one who had any depth to her. None of the other characters are really very developed (well, except Matthew and his mother.) Sybil was the only interesting person there. Stupid to kill her off. Methinks it's time for creativity: dream that she died. Or perhaps she was found to be alive after all, when taken away by coroners, but someone hid her away because she was impaired, then she'll return, smiling but not as mobile, yet perhaps still a nurse or something, and a mother. Next, do NOT use Shirley McLaine. I suggest having Diana Rigg added to the show--she could be Lady/Countess/Dame somebody or other and would be quite an asset. With Sybil gone (er, at least for now ;) I need someone of Diana Rigg's strength as an actress (and a character for her to play) to counter that loss. I am thrilled that Tom is evolving. Can't wait to see his little girl grow older, which should be apparent in a few shows! (Personally, I don't think "Cora" is played by the right actress either, Or at least her style of acting must change, for this role. The talented Eliz.McGovern instead seems to be acting as if in a badly read children's book--the kind insulting to the kids for it's obvious pandering DOWN to them. I think Eliz. should play Cora with more class and style; stateliness, rather than drearyness and bordering on (bad) acting out kids' nursery fables.) And as for Cora's mother, don't use that Shirley! Consider Meryl Streep or her ilk. It hurt to see -and watch lovely Shirley in this role, surprisingly. It needs a Meryl or the like--royalty of a strong, confident actress, who is grounded and imperiously wealthy; albeit without some of that class the Brits have in the show. Shirley is not that at all. Or even Kathy Bates! A strong character. You could not feel Shirley in the role. She wasn't there. Sorry! Never write into these things; shows how much I just adore this show! SO furious when Sybil died I almost stopped watching. I will, if they cannot figure out how to regain her. Perhaps she was a spy, and had to mimic death...for God and country...etc. Must stop. Again, sorry so verbose. :)

alas, she will not come again... which was leading me to wonder if Fellowes had missed a trick by not attempting a seance scene where Sybil would say her last? surely it would have worked as well upstairs as downstairs? and then along one came last night in Mr Selfridge!

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