Last year, Downton Abbey recruited George Clooney for a short to help promote ITV’s annual Text Santa fundraiser (something Hugh Bonneville recalls fondly in the cheeky video above). In this year’s special short, Lord Grantham, Lady Edith and Isobel search for someone to play the Abbey’s new Santa. They are treated to auditions from the likes of a dirty-mouthed Gordon Ramsay, an indignant Jim Broadbent, Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope and Warwick Davis, who’s looking for a big paydate. But Carson (Jim Carter) really wants the job. There are winks to Britain’s Got Talent, Bates’ penchant for being suspected of murder and Thomas’ rumormongering — along with a fair bit of Cockney ryhming slang. Text Santa aired a three-hour special last night, setting a record by raising more than £8.5M, but the donation line is still open with funds going to Macmillan Cancer Support, Make-A-Wish UK and Save the Children in the UK and abroad. Downton kicks off its final season on January 3 on PBS.
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