Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens has apologised for his character's death during the Christmas special, saying: "I am sorry about that!"
Speaking to Radio Times, the 30-year-old star went on to say: "I think what emerged is that it's an unwritten rule that you're not supposed to die on British television on Christmas Day, and that, specifically, was not my doing."
Stevens' character, Matthew Crawley, was killed in a car crash after visiting his wife Mary and their newborn baby in hospital. The untimely demise of such a main character, in the last few minutes of the two-hour festive episode, came as a shock to viewers expecting a more uplifting instalment of the hit ITV period drama.
Apologising to the viewers who felt Matthew's fate dampened their festive cheer, Stevens added: "I didn't have any say in the manner in which he went. Ultimately, it was in the hands of Julian [Fellowes] and the producers."
The British actor did concede that his demise was better than breaking up Matthew and Mary - the couple who spent two series getting together - by other means. "It was right that he didn't run off and have an affair with somebody," he said. "I don't think that would have been right for Matthew as a character."
Read the full interview in this week's Radio Times magazine. On sale now.