The moment John Bates (Brendan Coyle) got off the train at Downton station we knew the Boer War veteran would be a special someone in our lives. As valet to Earl Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), John— or Bates as he’s more commonly known —is privy to some of the Abbey’s most important secrets.
But that hardly means he doesn’t secrets of his own. He and fellow member of the staff, Anna Smith (Joanne Froggatt), kept their relationship quiet even as John faced prison time after the mysterious death of his first wife, Vera. First sentenced with hanging and then life in prison it was only with the hard work of his devoted wife and a little luck that John is set free at the end of Season 3.
Bates was introduced in Season 1, Episode 1: "April 1912."