Downton Abbey Rewatch + 1x06
I love this scene but since I read the full version in the script books I’m forever disappointed they cut this exchange at the very end:
SYBIL: Branson, if you want to be in politics, why aren’t you?
BRANSON: Oh, no reason, really, m’lady. Just a little thing called money.
She keeps forgetting the distance between them.
Because this line and the thoughts behind it are so important to Sybil’s character development.
When Tom talks about the gap between the aristocracy and the poor Sybil knows what he means but she doesn’t understand that that’s the gap between them.
No, Tom’s not ‘the poor’ Sybil would help with her charities but he’ll never have as much money as her father or even Matthew. And even if he did, he’d never be seen as equal to them.
Further, Sybil is part of the very same ‘oppressive class’ her father is. The people she, and the world, would consider her peers are a very big reason for that gap Tom wants to fix.
I think it’s really a good moment to see Tom’s character too. He understands all of this but he doesn’t moan about it, he just tells her he wants to fight to change it. And he doesn’t hold Sybil’s ignorance against her because she is starting to understand that she is ignorant and she’s more than willing to fix that.
When Sybil asks why he doesn’t just go into politics she’s just forgotten not everyone can just do as they please or lives as she does (this also cut scene is a wonderful example of that too). perhaps even more so with Branson because he’s not just ‘a servant’ to her, he’s a companion and more than equal in intelligence. It slips her mind that doesn’t mean they’re equal in other aspects too.
And Tom’s response isn’t to make fun of her for not knowing but nor does he try and excuse her ignorance or be careful of hurting her feelings. He just reminds her, as the friend he is, that he doesn’t have the opportunities the child of a Peer would. For him going into politics is really just a dream.
Another of Sybil’s cut lines that should have been kept it is her reply to his question too:
BRANSON : Ambition or dream?
SYBIL: Ambition. Definitely. They can’t afford to lose a man like you.