Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey/ITV/PBS/2010-2015  (Injured Leg)

John Bates (Brendan Coyle), disabled valet who works in Yorkshire, England at Downton Abbey, a country estate run by matriarch Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith), her son Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), the 7th Early of Grantham, and his American wife, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern). John replaced Mr. Watson, the abbey’s former valet shortly after the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

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John injured his right leg while fighting in the Boer war (with Robert Crowley) and consequently he uses a cane when he walks. At one point, Bates wore a metal leg brace called a “Limp Corrector,” but it caused him too much pain and he discarded it in a pond.

When Robert Crowley hired John as the new valet, he knew Bates was a good and moral man from his wartime days and thought he would be capable of the duties required of the position at Downton Abby, despite his disability.

At first, the existing staff, namely Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) and lady’s maid Sarah O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) try to get rid of Bates. Barrow, the footman at the estate who had hoped to be promoted to valet, resented Bates and consequently referred to him as “Long John Silver.”

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The first attempt at ridding Downton Abbey of Bates occurred when Sarah O’Brien knocks John’s cane away when he is standing in a receiving line to greet the Duke of Crowborough. Of course, John falls flat on his face.

Later, Barrow and O’Brien steal various items from the house and frame Bates for the theft. John was even accused of killing his estranged wife, Vera Bates. But in all cases, he was exonerated of the charges.

Eventually, Bates earned the respect of much of the staff such as lady’s maid Anna Smith (Joanne Froggatt), who later marries John Bates, and butler Mr. Carson (Jim Carter).

John Bates served at Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1925.

Note: The grounds of Highclere Castle in Britain were used for the both the interior and exterior of the fictional Downton Abbey.

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