Thx to Musa - here's an interesting article about Brendan Coyle who played Mr Higgins in North and South. In fact, this excerpt explains why the Downton Abbey writer was inspired to write Brendan's role in that period drama: "EXCERPT: The thing is, in the flesh Brendan is, well… he’s Mr Bates – stoical but broodingly passionate and very sexy. Julian Fellowes wrote the character for Brendan after he saw him in the 2004 BBC series North And South because, he has said, he knew ‘he had the capacity to suggest a character’s bitterness and painful past without doing too much to indicate it’.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2038106/DOWNTON-ABBEY-SPECIAL-Brendan-Coyle-plays-Mr-Bates-available.html#ixzz1YLqbQ8tq
Tyrion towers over all actors in the supporting actor category:
no small feat for vertically-challenged actor - Peter Dinklage (centerpiece of the saga: Tyrion in Game of Thrones)