Downton Abbey christmas special spoilers: A shock proposal and plenty of emotion

Christmas with the Crawleys had more delights than a hamper sent by a rich aunt. We're used to Lady Mary's love life taking centre stage in Downton Abbey and there was hints that she will soon have a dashing new suitor but the real surprise was that – hurrah! – Mr Carson (Jim Carter) finally got up the courage to propose to the head housekeeper.


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After five seasons Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes are engaged

"Of course I'll marry you, you old booby," replied Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan), melting 10 million hearts after five seasons.

Before popping the question the butler told her that he'd bought a house for them. "Take your time to decide,'"he said, "but know that I'm not marrying anyone else."

This being 1924, they stiffly patted each other on the arm and toasted with a sherry rather than enjoying an embrace but it was a deeply touching moment in a feature-length episode that was full of them.

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Lady Mary has a new suitor in the form of Henry Talbot

Elsewhere, the younger folk were providing plenty of passion themselves. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery)  found herself with a worthy new man.

Matthew Goode stepped into the role of Henry Talbot, a beau capable of returning her one liners, with twinkling blue eyes, a habit of leaping into his car without opening the door and savvy enough to show himself too entranced.

Her sister Lady Edith forgot her troubles for a moment and began flirting with a land agent.

Henry Talbot is played by handsome actor Matthew Goode

The family had to say goodby to Tom Branson, their chauffeur-turn-son-in-law, as he is off to America to seek his fortune.

Their servants had plenty of troubles of their own with Bates confessing to the murder of Green to get Anna off the hook. Moseley and Baxter then spent several days doing some detective work that turned up an alibi just in time to allow Bates surprise his wife at the carol singsong.

When Anna asked if they were home free, Bates picked her up and twirled her around before telling her: "We'll worry about everything else later. For now, let's just have a very Happy Christmas."