Maria steals in to win a role as thief wife in Downton Abbey
Commitments star Maria Doyle Kennedy has landed a role in period drama Downton Abbey.
The highly acclaimed actress is juggling her music and acting career for her performance in the second season of the ITV series which commanded almost 13 million viewers at its peak.
Kennedy will appear in the show as Vera Bates, the thieving wife of war-wounded valet John Bates.
"Maria is in London right now making it," a source close to the singer told the Herald today.
"She'll be there until Sunday then she has to play a concert next week in LA and then she'll go back to Downton Abbey again."
Maria (46), who was praised for her performance as Queen Catherine of Aragon in the award-winning TV3/BBC series The Tudors, will gain just as much attention in this latest project because of its massive audience.
The last episode of Downton Abbey attracted an average of 12.8 million viewers in England, Wales and Ireland, making it the biggest audience for an episode of a new drama in seven years. Critics expect the second series to do even better, especially since it has now been picked up by other countries including the US, Norway and Sweden.
The second season will have eight episodes and a feature-length Christmas special has also been commissioned for 2011.
While the first seven episodes covered the pre-war period, from 1912 to 1914, it is understood that the second part will take place during the Great War.
The story is set in the Edwardian country house, Downton Abbey that is the home of the Crawley family and delves into the intrigues and dramas of both the gentry and their servants
Maria's character Vera was already introduced last year, although she never appeared.
Her estranged husband John was taken in to work for Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham and lord of Downton Abbey, because he could not find employment elsewhere with his limp and he had been Robert's batman during the Boer war.
In the last episode, it emerged that John, played by Brendan Coyle (47), had taken the blame for his wife Vera's thefts and even went prison for her crimes. This contributed to his incapability of finding employment other than the valet position at the Crawley estate.