What has Downton done to poor Anna?

Oh poor Anna. Did you see it? Did you see what that nasty Julian Fellowes chap did to one of our best loved TV characters?

For those who don’t know, I am talking about Downton Abbey - that glamorous bit of early 20th century escapism which brings a bit of light and loveliness into the dark autumn Sunday evenings.

I have, at times, described Downton as the best comedy on TV. Some of the acting is so completely hammy it should be made into a sandwich. The storylines at times have been completely implausible - the kind which, if I pitched them to my editors at Poolbeg - they would think I had gone quite mad.

A long lost heir who survives the Titanic, loses his memory and then pops back up for a bit of flirtation with Lady Edith before disappearing in the night again?

Cousin Matthew’s miraculous recovery from paralysis just in time to stop Lady Mary tipping a tray of hot tea all over herself?

Almost an entire episode dedicated to Mrs Patmore taking a funny turn over using a new fangled electric whisk?

The more canny among us would play Downton bingo on a Sunday night (which, if Sundays weren’t school nights would make a cracker drinking game). Things to watch out for include someone saying, “The world is changing around us”, Isobel Crawley mentioning prostitution, the Dowager sniffing her disapproval or Lady Edith mentioning her newspaper column.

While there have been moments of high drama (would Bates hang? What about cousin Matthew driving that car far too fast on the day his first child is born?) there has been little to shock and disturb.

Until Sunday night - that is. When the safe, comfortable and comforting family drama took a darker direction. Anna - perhaps the most beloved of all the below stairs staff - was subjected to a brutal sexual assault. The viewers did not see the actual rape take place, but we heard her screams, and we saw her battered, bruised and broken afterwards.

There is no doubt Joanne Froggatt, the actress who plays Anna, has long been overlooked in terms of her acting ability. There is no doubt she acted this scene wonderfully - and that everyone watching was shocked, upset and horrified by what happened to her.

But it may just have broken the Downton bubble. In a day and age where we crave nostalgia and the wearing of those rose tinted glasses could Downton have gone too far in the name of ratings?