'Downton Abbey''s Stevens to judge Man Booker

'Downton Abbey''s Stevens to judge Man Booker

In a move likely to inflame critics of the Man Booker prize judging process, actor Dan Stevens—best known for playing Matthew Crawley in TV drama series "Downton Abbey"—is to join the judging panel for the 2012 prize.

Stevens, who is editor-at-large for online quarterly The Junket and a regular guest on the BBC's "Review Show", joins academics Dinah Birch and Bharat Tandon and historian Amanda Foreman. The judges will be chaired by TLS editor Sir Peter Stothard.

Stothard commented: "This year's Man Booker judges begin work this week in enthusiasm and expectation. We have two of Britain's finest professional critics, with expertise in novels from the 18th to the 21st century, a distinguished actor who is also an accomplished literary critic and an historian who is one of the most successful biographers of our time.

"We are all looking forward to a feisty Man Booker year—with a background of Jane Austen, John Ruskin, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, the Times Literary Supplement and even a hint of the library at Downton Abbey."

Following the row surrounding this year's Man Booker prize, in which it was claimed that the judges had placed too much emphasis on "readability", agent Andrew Kidd announced the founding of a new award titled The Literature Prize which would "establish a clear and uncompromising standard of excellence" via literary expertise.