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Downton Abbey sex assault draws 60 viewer complaints

Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey

Story by Jack Foley

DOWNTON Abbey fans have taken to Twitter to complain about Sunday’s shock storyline, which involved a beloved star being subjected to a sexual assault (spoilers below).

The story in question saw Anna May Bates (Joanne Froggatt) attacked and raped by a guest’s valet, played by ex-EastEnders star Nigel Harman.

ITV has received 60 complaints despite airing a warning alerting viewers to the upsetting scenes before the episode aired, as did broadcasting watchdog Ofcom – although it cannot yet release figures.

Twitter was also set ablaze with fans protesting about the decision to include such a storyline in a family show.

One said the scene was akin to having “a murder on Teletubbies”, while fellow viewer Lucy Raine tweeted: “I am genuinely so distressed at what just happened on Downton Abbey, I feel sick.”

She was backed by Jennifer Durie who wrote: “I don’t think I will ever forgive the writers of Downton Abbey for what they did to Anna.”

Some TV critics also expressed shock, with The Daily Telegraph’s Katy Rink writing: “Last night we writhed in our sofas, disbelieving and uncomfortable.”

She felt the scenes risk alienating some viewers who were more accustomed to the show’s gentle nature – something which the show itself has been criticised for in recent seasons.

But certain fans have even threatened to boycott the show in protest over the development.

The attack in question occurred while the rest of the servants, guests and family were watching an opera performance upstairs by fellow guest star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

As yet, ITV or writer Julian Fellowes have yet to make any comment.

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