If anyone know how to whip up a tasty pot of porridge, it’s Downton Abbey cook Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol). But during Lesley’s recent visit to the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu, China, she kept her on-screen cooking expertise to chopping up watermelon, apples, and carrots. We doubt the Dowager Countess would approve.
Lesley spent three days at the Centre, which is home to 165 bears rescued from China’s bear bile industry. She’s an advocate of the charity Animals Asia, which rescues bears from farms where their gall bladders are pumped daily. Yes, the bear’s bile is actually collected and sold — it supposedly has medical benefits. Our disgust has no bounds.
“[The bears] have personalities; you get a distinct sense of who they are,” said Lesley, adding the sanctuary is like “Disneyland for bears.” (The UK’s Daily Mail has the adorable photos.)
While the four-legged fuzzies looked pretty excited to see Lesley — and the jar of honey she carried — her visit caused an even bigger stir among Chinese fans of Downton. The show is gaining popularity particularly among the country’s wealthy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
While still mooning over moon bears, Lesley hinted at the upcoming Season 4 saying there’s “a new dynamic” when it comes to the widow Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) dealing with potential love interests. The suitors are “sniffing around Mary” — like bears around a beehive, perhaps? Mary does have a reputation for stinging words.
Beyond that, Lesley’s not saying much about the next season though her husband’s had a look at what’s ahead. “He sneaks in and reads my scripts,” she said. “He wouldn’t tell you what happens, but he can’t resist saying he knows!” Lucky guy!
Lesley’s trip to China is just another unlikely pitstop in her life after joining the Abbey. “Downton has been life-changing,” she said. “Without it I wouldn’t have been given tickets to the Olympics Opening Ceremony. Nor been to China visiting a bear sanctuary. Now I believe anything can happen.”
Source: Daily Mail