Downton star pics 'exploitation'
Downton Abbey star Laura Carmichael has spoken of the "terrifying and upsetting" celebrity scandal which has resulted in nude images of her colleagues - and one co-star - being leaked onto the internet.
The fiercely private actor, who plays Lady Edith in the ITV costume drama, also confirmed she will escape from a fire that engulfs the property as the new series opens.
Laura was speaking to the Mail on Sunday's Event magazine two weeks after explicit images of celebrities, including American Hustle star Jennifer Lawrence and Downton co-star Jessica Brown Findlay, were circulated on the internet by hackers.
The Hampshire-raised actor said: "It's just awful. It's a crime. It makes me really sad that this is the world in which we live.
"Terrifying and upsetting. What's happened to my mate is horrendous. I don't understand why it is anything other than criminality and exploitation."
Laura, whose character has endured heartache several times since the TV series started in 2010, will again have viewers gripped when the fifth series starts as Lady Edith accidentally sets fire to her bedroom - and Downton goes up in smoke.
Lady Edith was seen weeping in bed over her secret daughter, whom she gave up when her lover, Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards), mysteriously disappeared.
But a book too close to the fireplace goes up in flames, putting the rest of the house and its inhabitants in danger.
Fans will watch on as the family and servants scramble to get out in time, producers said.
Asked if her character survives, Laura replied: "Ha! Yeah."
A promotional picture for the new series featuring Lady Edith released last month caused a stir when a fan of the show noticed the very modern bottle of water on the mantelpiece behind Hugh Bonneville and Carmichael.
The former receptionist told Event: "It was really funny that it was so shocking to everyone else, when to our eyes there was nothing weird in the pictures."
The new series of Downton Abbey starts on September 21 on ITV1.