DOWNTON Abbey stars have won huge pay rises to appear in the fourth series.
Some have doubled their money from the first year – to stop them being tempted away by other lucrative offers.
Already Jessica Brown Findlay, who played youngest daughter Sybil, has quit to take a Hollywood role opposite Russell Crowe.
And Dan Stevens, who has moved his wife and two children to New York to appear in a play, is also rumoured to be leaving.
The actor – Downton heir Matthew Crawley, the husband of eldest daughter Mary – will appear in the Christmas special.
But colleagues say he may be written out early in next year’s series.
Most of the main stars have managed to negotiate bigger deals after work offers flooded in as a result of the worldwide ITV hit. They include Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt, Siobhan Finneran and Rob James Collier.
One source revealed: “Because of the success of Downton, a lot of the actors have been offered amazing roles elsewhere and some have been tempted.”
He said the pay rises had helped to ensure the stars stayed with the show, which they felt passionately about.
The source added: “They are all very protective of Downton as they know how well they have done out of it.
“For many it has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. They have all been quite surprised by the way it has taken off.”
An ITV spokeswoman said last night: “We do not discuss the contracts of individual actors as this is personal information.”