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Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton cuddle up at the One Night Only event at The Ivy West Street© Getty

Downton Abbey's Imelda Staunton reveals secret to 40-year-marriage with Jim Carter

The Lady Maud Bagshaw actress tied the knot with Jim Carter in 1983 

Megan Bull
TV Writer
June 18, 2024
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Acting royalty Imelda Staunton and Jim Carter have been the picture of marital bliss for 41 years, after tying the knot in 1983. 

Opening up in a new interview with British Vogue, Imelda, 68, revealed the secret to their happy marriage, explaining that it's their commitment to spending time together that really counts. 

Imelda Staunton's British Vogue shoot © Vogue/Jo Metson Scott
Imelda Staunton opened up about her marriage in a new interview with British Vogue

"Success is a really tricky word," she told the publication. "And it should be spelled with a very small S. I think it poisons people. I feel Jim [Carter, her husband] and I have made our lives work as a marriage within this business, and we take our life more seriously than our jobs. 

Imelda Staunton and Jim Carter at the Wonka premiere © Getty
Imelda and Jim first met in 1982

"Of course, we both take [the job] very seriously," she continued. "But you go, what's the most important thing here? That I play another part? Or that we go on a very nice holiday, or that we have that time in the garden, that we have our life? But we can afford to say that – I don't mean financially, but with the work we've done and are lucky enough to still be doing. I think we know how fortunate we are."

Reflecting on the early days of their marriage, Imelda added that she and Jim would take special care when choosing acting projects. "If he was going to go to an exotic location, we'd go, 'Right, well, I can come out that weekend.' So we made that work. Or there's two jobs. 'I can go and do that. Do you need to do that? OK? Lovely.'"

Imelda Staunton and Jim Carter with daughter Bessie © Getty
Imelda and Jim are proud parents to Bridgerton actress Bessie Carter

Following their marriage, Imelda and Jim – who met after co-starring in a 1982 production of Guys and Dolls – went on to welcome their daughter, Bessie Carter, who currently stars as Prudence Featherington in Bridgerton

They've also shared the screen on several occasions, most notably in the films, Downton Abbey (2018) and Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022). Imelda was introduced as Lady Maud Bagshaw, while Jim reprised his role as Mr. Carson, after appearing in the TV series. 

Imelda Staunton and her husband Jim Carter at Derren Brown's Unbelievable show gala© Getty
The couple have shared the screen in Downton Abbey (2018) and Downton Abbey: A New Era

While Imelda and Jim had few scenes together in the first movie, they relished the opportunity to star in the same project. After joining the film's cast in 2019, Imelda spoke to HELLO! about what it was like to work with her husband. She revealed: "Downton was just luxury, like a nice box of chocolates.

"Jim and I only worked together for about two days. It was so nice, so exciting. But of course I have been living with Downton for six or seven years… I tried to get the dog in it, no they weren't having [it]."

Husband and wife Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton looked loved up on the red carpet© Dave J Hogan
Jim has called Imelda the "best in the business" when it comes to her acting performances

Jim and Imelda were given a brief scene together in the sequel, Downton Abbey: A New Era, which Jim was particularly grateful for. "It was just a short, cheeky little scene with the French hat seller. It was nice, but very quick," he told Town & Country, before describing his actress wife as "the best in the business."

See the full feature in the July issue of British Vogue, available via digital download and on newsstands from Tuesday 18 June

Vogue Cover of Central Cee© Vogue/Jo Metson Scott

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