Exclusive: Downton Abbey's Raquel Cassidy and Kevin Doyle open up about Baxter and Molesley’s love story

The duo reprise their roles for the latest film, Downton Abbey: A New Era

One has been part of the Downton Abbey cast since the very beginning, the other was a latecomer, joining in the middle of season four, but both are beloved staples in the period drama. 

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Kevin Doyle plays bumbling servant-turned-schoolteacher, Joseph Molesley, who show writer and creator Julian Fellowes, called "one of my favourites," on Downton Abbey: The Official Podcast. "Molesley, in the hands of Kevin, became a very poignant character, very subtle, very funny, but also very sad. Which is a very interesting combination to watch and to write," Julian shared. 

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After a failed attempt to get closer to Lady Mary's Lady's Maid, Anna (played by Joanne Froggatt), Molesley's love life was fairly non-existent until Raquel Cassidy, who plays rehabilitated thief and Lady’s Maid, Phyllis Baxter, joined the cast. Now, the duo are a fan favourite.

"I know fans have been trying to get us together so much that they've actually put our names together,” Raquel told us. "Baxley, I think."

Kevin and Raquel have as much fun offset as they do on it! 

Here, the pair talk to HELLO! Canada about the evolution of their characters, what’s up next for Molesley and Baxter and their favourite Downton memories. 

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HELLO! Canada: Congratulations on the new Downton film! It was a wonderful continuation of your story. Your characters got their happy ending. What did that mean to you?

Raquel Cassidy: For my character, I was absolutely thrilled. But I was also really thrilled for the fans. 

Kevin Doyle: Yeah, yeah, delighted. It was sort of coming. Slowly, but it was coming.

Raquel: You say that, but I don’t know that Baxter was counting any chickens. 

John Bates (portrayed by Brendan Coyle, left), Anna (portrayed by Joanne Froggatt, centre) and Phyllis Baxter are pictured in a scene from the film. Photo: © Carnival Film & Television Ltd

What did you think of the slow build up to this happily ever after?

Kevin: I like the reason that he gave for not having done it earlier. The fact that he wanted to be able to provide. It’s quite an old-fashioned thing.

Raquel: I would have taken him anyway. But Mr. Molesley is a very humble character, and he’s not suddenly going to go I can do this, whatever [the circumstances]. You're the man and you’re supposed to provide, and you want to do it in the best way possible.

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Kevin: Yeah. Well, the scene that proceeds that, where he's offered the screenwriting gig and the money. I tried to figure out how life-changing that would be. Nowadays, it would be many, many hundreds of thousands of pounds. So, suddenly he's gone from being a sort of humble schoolteacher to literally being able to take you around the world. So, he's given that sort of lottery ticket, which enables him to then go to you and say…

Raquel: That's what’s so magnificent. He does it there and then, it's like he's been raring to go. It's like he's guided to do it right there and then and not wait another second.

Kevin: No, he went straight to search for her.

Raquel: That makes me want to cry.

Photo: © Carnival Film & Television Ltd

What do you think is next for Baxter and Molesley?

Kevin: I don’t imagine their life changes very much. Would she want to stay at Downton? She probably would, wouldn’t she.

Raquel: Yes, I think so. But I do think they are both people who are open to so much. I mean she says in the film, "Times change, and we must change with them." Even though she's quiet and not a person who goes look at me, here I am, and this is my opinion. She'll say it if she's asked. She loves going to France. So, I think if there is potential for travel, I think they would do that really beautifully together, very culturally. But I mean, in terms of leaving Lady Cora, I don't think she'd want to do that. I think there's a huge bond there.

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Kevin: And you can write screenplays from home, can't you?

Raquel: Yes, you can darling.

Kevin: [Laughs] I’ve got a typewriter.

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Highclere Castle, in Newbury England, stands in for Downton Abbey. What’s your favourite part of filming there?

Kevin: Just turning up actually. When you go through the gates, there's another mile or so before you hit the house and there's twists and turns, and then suddenly the house is revealed to you. And even now, I sort of get excited about going back to the house because this time we only went back for a couple of weeks and normally when we were doing the TV show, we would go back maybe five or six times over a period of six or seven months. So, you kind of cherish it when it's there. 

In addition to being a popular filming location, Highclere Castle has helped make history – the British North America Act, which led to Canada's Confederation in 1867, was drafted there

Raquel: I like the grounds more than anything. And there are some magnificent paintings in there if you take the time to look, but really the drive up there, because it’s so long, it's minutes and minutes and minutes and then it reveals itself. It’s magnificent.

MORE: Seven stars who left Downton Abbey – and why

Downton Abbey: A New Era is in theatres now.

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