(L-R) Actors Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, Laura Carmichael, executive producer Gareth Neame, Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt and series executive producer Rebecca Eaton speak onstage during the "Downton Abbey" panel at the PBS portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 6, 2013 in Beverly Hills

(L-R) Actors Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, Laura Carmichael, executive producer Gareth Neame, Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt and series executive producer Rebecca Eaton speak onstage during the “Downton Abbey” panel at the PBS portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 6, 2013 in Beverly Hills

*An executive producer of TV’s hottest series “Downton Abbey” said the decision to cast its first actor of color did not come from outside pressure to make the show more diverse.

The BBC series, which airs in the States under PBS’ “Masterpiece” banner, follows a family of English aristocrats and their servants in a countryside estate during the early 20th century.  The show remains loyal to the racial makeup of the era. A compound like Downton Abbey would not have black servants, and the upstairs folk rarely had social interactions with anyone of African descent – unless the family members visited London clubs to hear African American jazz singers.

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Gary Carr as jazz singer Jack Ross in “Downton Abbey”

Enter London-born actor Gary Carr, who joins the series for its upcoming fourth season as “a charming and charismatic” jazz singer named Jack Ross.

However, executive producer Gareth Neame said the casting of Carr was not the result of cries for more diversity. Joining five of the show’s actresses at Tuesday’s Television Critics Association press tour, Neame would only echo sentiments expressed by the show’s creator, Julian Fellowes, who has said in past interviews that he wanted to include more black and Asian characters if he could do so in a manner that was “historically believable.”

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“Downton Abbey” returns to PBS on Sunday, Jan. 5.