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Charles Carson

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Jim Carter as Charles Carson, the butler of Downton Abbey.

Charles Carson is a character on the series, Downton Abbey. He was played by UK actor, Jim Carter.

Downton's long-time butler

Charles Carson, known as Mr. Carson downstairs; and traditionally known upstairs as Carson, is the long-time butler of Downton Abbey, a country house in the Northern Yorkshires of England. He joined the household after a stint on the stage as one half of the singing and dancing group, The Cheerful Charlies. He started out as a junior footman in the time of the dowager countess, Violet Crawley.

He rose through the ranks and then attained status as head butler. He is an authoritarian and a somewhat humorless butler, but he does have a sense of honor and a sense of compassion. While he can be very stern and very harsh, especially when he disciplines his subordinates, he also has a heart made of solid gold as well.

When he first meets John Bates, the new valet to the Earl of Grantham, he is worried that he would not be able to fulfill his duties due to his disability. However, as time goes on, he considers Bates to be his most hard-working subordinate.

His closest friend in the house is Elsie Hughes, the family housekeeper. As time wore on, they slowly fall in love and in the sixth season, they finally get married.

His hidden soft side was shown when he comforts Lady Mary Crawley, as she cries. It was clear to everyone that, although he adored all the girls equally, he clearly had a favorite in Mary.

His soft side was even more revealed when he heard baby Sybbie Branson crying in the nursery. He picked up the crying infant and comforted her, reminding him of her mother, the late Lady Sybil when she was that age. He took Sybbie into the library to help calm her down.

Carson also had a favorite subordinate in footman Alfred Nugent, even though at first, he didn't think he would work out, as he had worked in a hotel, and was too tall, not to mention that he was the nephew of former lady's maid, Sarah O'Brien. He would encourage Alfred, although at times, he would admonish him for his errors.

He also had a favorite in the late William Mason, who he knew was homesick and under stress as he was bullied by Thomas Barrow.

Carson and Thomas were arch-rivals. Thomas was, quite bluntly, a thief. He would steal things, and try to blame things on others. Carson tried, but failed to break up a fight between Barrow and the late William Mason, whom he had bullied mercilessly. After Thomas insulted William one time too many, William beat him up.

At first, he was unsure of how John Bates would fare, because of his war injury and his limp, which required a walking stick, but he would become more fond of him and considered him his hardest-working subordinate.

Carson was much harder on footman, James as he (James) was often belittling Alfred for his dreams and ambitions. Carson previously considered William Mason a favorite, as he was a hard-worker and brought pride to the house as a soldier.

He was open to allow Alfred to learn to cook by the aid of the kitchen staff, Mrs. Beryl Patmore and her assistant, Daisy Mason.

However, at the final episode, he is discovered to have the Palsy (called Parkinson's Disease, today) and was forced to retire as Butler. His replacement would be Thomas.

He and his new wife, Mrs. Hughes, would remain on the estate, with a pension that befitted his many years of service to the family.

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