Lexington native Lucille Sharp cast in PBS's 'Downton Abbey'

bfortune@herald-leader.comFebruary 29, 2012 

Lexington native Lucille Sharp has been cast in the hit British television drama Downton Abbey.

She will play Miss Reid, a maid to American aristocrat Martha Levinson, portrayed by Shirley MacLaine, according to the public TV station WGBH and several reports in the British media.

Now living in London, Sharp, 21, attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Lexington from fourth through 10th grades. Her last two years of high school were spent at the Arts Academy High School in Interlochen, Mich., said Sharp's mother, Lee Sharp. Sharp went on to study at the Royal Scottish Academy for Music and Drama in Glasgow, from which she graduated last year.

While in Lexington, Sharp played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at Summerfest in 2007 and acted in shows with Lexington Children's Theatre and Paragon Music Theatre.

Lee Sharp said her daughter was on the Downton Abbey set last week.

A part of PBS's Masterpiece Classic series, Downton Abbey follows the travails of the Crawley family and their servants at an estate in World War I-era England. With its soap opera-like drama and its lavish period setting, the show has developed a rabid fan base in Britain and the United States.

The second season finale, on Feb. 19, posted PBS's biggest audience since fall 2009. According to the network, the Twitter hashtag #downton showed up in 20,000 to 30,000 tweets on Sunday nights during the second season, and when the first season won a Golden Globe for best miniseries, Twitter reported that Downton-related comments averaged 6,162 tweets a second, putting it ahead of the 2011 Super Bowl and last year's royal wedding.

"We're thrilled about the addition of Lucy Sharp to the cast of Downton Abbey," said Craig Cornwell, director of programming at Kentucky Educational Television, which broadcasts the show in the state. "We knew there was great interest in the series when we hosted two sellout showings of the premiere season-two episode earlier this year, but none of us had any idea of how popular this series would become."

Sharp's character is one of several new faces in the third season of the series. MacLaine's character is the American mother of Cora, Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), matriarch of Downton Abbey. Matt Milne, who was in the film War Horse, will play a footman named Alfred, according to media reports.

The third season of Downton Abbey is in production. It is expected to premiere in America in January.

Sharp is the daughter of Lee and Steve Sharp and the granddaughter of the late Henry Fouchee, a longtime Lexington florist.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010.

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