Hugh Bonneville: George Clooney sprinkled magic dust over Downton Abbey

The Hollywood actor is the star attraction in a special sketch the ITV drama's cast has filmed for Text Santa

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Christmas is coming and we’re all rather excited, but this December will be extra special. Because not only will we get presents under the tree, this year we’re getting an extra special gift in the shape of George Clooney on Downton Abbey. 

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The Hollywood A-lister has already paid a visit to Highclere Castle to film a special sketch for ITV’s charity appeal Text Santa with the entire cast sworn to secrecy…until September when news broke and the internet went mental

Now they’re allowed to talk – something RadioTimes.com took full advantage of when we sat down for a chat with Hugh Bonneville. 

“He came and filmed with us for an afternoon back in May when we were doing this Text Santa sketch and he was incredibly generous with his time and his talent,” says the actor, who plays Lord Grantham in the ITV period drama. 

“It’s interesting the number of people who suddenly come on set who’d never been on set in five years of filming. He was great – he was a good laugh and sprinkled some sort of magic dust over our experience.” 

The Text Santa sketch is the first of two appearances from the Downton Abbey cast in the Christmas schedules. The show’s festive special is due to air on Christmas Day and will return to a traditional wintery setting – a decision that’s gone down well with the show’s millions of fans. 

“We span several months in the Christmas episode,” explains Bonneville. “We’re going grouse shooting in the north so we filmed at Alnwick Castle for a couple of weeks which was just incredible. I mean, Highclere’s pretty incredible but Alnwick makes it look like a portacabin – it’s vast, amazing. So we had the privilege of filming inside their state rooms which was incredible. 

“And the story does – I think viewers will be delighted to know – have a Christmas theme towards the end.”

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Hugh Bonneville stars in Paddington – out in UK cinemas now. Take a look at the trailer below…