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Downton Abbey star Rob James-Collier talks about his character's gay scandal

'He turns into an Edwardian sex pest'

US audiences got their first look at season three's penultimate episode of Downton Abbey on Sunday (10 February) and a big part of it was the scandal that ensued when the gay footman Thomas (Rob James-Collier) kissed fellow footman Jimmy (Ed Speleers).

Thomas enters Jimmy's room while he's asleep and kisses him thinking his feelings will be returned.

They are not.

'Thomas becomes besotted,' James-Collier tells 'Let’s face it, he borderline stalks Jimmy. He turns into an Edwardian sex pest. It’s pretty bad.'

Jimmy reports him to the bosses and it appears bad boy Thomas is finally going to have to leave Downton - and without a reference. But unexpected allies help him avoid dismissal.

The episode, as well as the recent one in which a family member dies, have allowed audiences to see some of Thomas' softer side.

'After he kisses Jimmy, he’s just completely distraught and destroyed and vulnerable, and you feel sorry for him,' the actor says. 'I’ve had people come up to me in the street and go, 'Oh my God, Thomas made me cry last night, and I hate you for making him make me cry because I love to hate him.' I’m messing up people’s lives.'

The season three finale of Downton Abbey airs in the US next Sunday (17 February).

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