Belfast Telegraph

Leech: My moment with MacLaine

Downton Abbey star Allen Leech has confessed he fluffed his lines when Hollywood actress Shirley MacLaine turned up on set.

The Irish actor - who plays Branson the chauffeur in the hit ITV1 show - got starstruck when he filmed a scene with the Oscar winner, who will appear in series three as Martha Levinson, the wealthy mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).

"I sat down and the first line I did with her, it came out as 'Blah blah blah' and she went, 'Darling I think you got that wrong'," Allen revealed.

"She's amazing. Lovely. And so down to earth, which was really brilliant. She arrived on set and she kind of just became part of the cast.

"It's one of those casts where everyone just gets on so well. It's like a big family and when she arrived she just got embraced into it and she went with it, and it was brilliant."

Allen said Shirley got on particularly well with Dame Maggie Smith, who plays Downton's matriarch, the formidable Dowager Countess.

He added: "They got on like a house on fire. They know so many of the same people, they were sitting there swapping stories. Just watching them, there are three Oscars sitting there in front of you, it's amazing."

And the actor insisted he wasn't worried about ratings, despite rival BBC show Upstairs Downstairs experiencing a dip in its new series.

"You can never really think about stuff like that. You can only go on the success you've had before, and given the success we had, we'd love to match it and better it. It comes down to the storylines and I think they're there this year and I think we can do it."

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