"Downton Abbey" adds first black cast member

Actor Gary Carr is joining the fourth season of "Downton Abbey."

"Mad Men" isn't the only period-show to add a little diversity to its traditionally all-white cast. On Wednesday, the producers of "Downton Abbey" announced that they were adding a new name to its roster of characters, to be played by the first black actor to appear on the series.

ITV, the network that broadcasts the British period drama in the U.K., said on its website that Gary Carr, a London-born actor who has appeared on the television series "Bluestone 42" and "Death in Paradise," would join "Downton" in its upcoming fourth season as Jack Ross, a jazz singer described as "a charming and charismatic young man."

Gareth Neame, an executive producer of "Downton" and the managing director of Carnival Films, which produces the series, said in a statement: "We are delighted to introduce another fantastic, dynamic character to 'Downton Abbey.' His addition will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can't wait for viewers to see in Series four."

Despite the fact that the show focuses on white aristocrats and their servants in the early 20th century, "Downton Abbey" has been criticized for its lack of diversity, though creator, Julian Fellowes, has said he has wanted to introduce more black and Asian characters if he could do it in a way that was "historically believable."

According to the ITV website, Carr joins new season 4 cast members Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Dame Harriet Walter, who are all set to star in the fourth series in addition to returning actors Shirley MacLaine, who will reprise her role as Martha Levinson, and series regulars Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery and Jim Carter.

Air dates have not been announced by PBS for the U.S. yet, but ITV said that the fourth season of "Downton" would consist of eight episodes and a "feature length" special that would be shown at Christmas in Britain.

Tell us: Are you glad that "Downton" has added some diversity to its cast?