*Gary Carr, a regular on British TV, will join the red hot drama “Downton Abbey” as its first recurring black cast member.
He’ll play a “charming and charismatic” young jazz singer in the show’s upcoming eight-episode fourth season, which airs in the U.S. on PBS.
Creator Julian Fellowes said in November that it would be “rather nice to open it up ethnically a bit,” amid criticism from some over the lack of ethnic diversity among the cast.
Carr joins fellow newbie cast members Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Dame Harriet Walter, who are all set to carry significant roles in season four, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Production banner Carnival Films and U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV today announced Carr’s casting May 1. Carnival Films managing director Gareth Neame said the addition of Carr’s character, “will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can’t wait for viewers to see in [season four].”
As well as filming an eight-part fourth season, “Downton Abbey” will return Christmas 2013 with another feature-length episode.
The new season will see the return of Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson alongside series regulars Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery and Jim Carter.