Downton Abbey is the only show — possibly ever — that everyone in my family can sit down and watch together. Both my grandmas love it and my mom, who walks away about 90% of the time I put a TV show in her DVD player, is the first to say, “It’s not that late, let’s just watch one more episode.”

So what’s the magic ingredient that makes this show so beloved? Besides the will-they-won’t-they drama and the costume changes, I think it is the authenticity of the characters. All of the actors seem to so completely embody the roles they play that it seems impossible to imagine the characters played by anyone else.

One of the great players in Downton is of course, the put-upon, underappreciated cook, Mrs. Patmore, played by Lesley Nicol. In late November I had the chance to talk to Lesley along with my co-worker Allyson Quibell, editor of On Q magazine. We asked her all the burning questions that you’ve been dying to have answered, including the obvious: Does she like to cook? Click through and listen to her answers.

Lesley on how she got into character:

On cooking:

On period food:

On cultural changes and corsets for the women of Downton:

On the upstairs/downstairs rivalry:

Can’t get enough Downton? Hear more of this interview on SoundCloud. Don’t forget to catch up on Series II, starting December 31 at 8pm on KQED Plus. And get ready for Series III, starting January 6, 2013 at 9pm on KQED 9.

Interview: Lesley Nicol, Mrs. Patmore from ‘Downton Abbey’ 28 December,2012Lizzy Acker

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