Quintessential English actor Nigel Havers will appear in the Christmas special of hit ITV period drama Downton Abbey, RadioTimes.com can confirm.
The 59-year-old is to play the part of suave aristocrat Lord Hepworth in a yuletide edition of the programme, set to return for a second series this autumn.
Mistresses and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries star Sharon Small has also been confirmed for the December show. She will play Marigold, a visiting lady’s maid to Lady Rosamond Painswick, played by Samantha Bond.
Havers, who has an illustrious film and television career spanning five decades, spent a six-month stint in 2010 as gentleman thief Lewis Archer in Coronation Street. Later that year he appeared as a contestant on ITV1’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, where he struck up an unlikely on-screen friendship with Happy Mondays singer Shaun Ryder, before eventually walking out of the show.
Written by acclaimed screenwriter and director Julian Fellowes, the first series of Downton Abbey began in September 2010. The programme, which co-stars Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith, became a surprise ratings success for ITV, averaging 9.26 million viewers across seven episodes.
Executive producer and MD Carnival Film & Television, Gareth Neame, said: “We are pleased that Nigel and Sharon are joining the cast. Nigel is perfectly placed to portray the character of Lord Hepworth, a suave aristocrat and we are very pleased with the casting of Sharon as Marigold, a visiting lady’s maid. Both actors are already very popular with our audience whom, I am sure, will be as excited as we are to see them in action for the Downton Christmas special.”