Former Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay has admitted that she was shocked by the reaction to her on-screen death in the period drama.

In the most recent series, viewers saw Lady Sybil (Brown Findlay) die in childbirth after suffering from eclampsia, a complication that can arise during pregnancy.

Speaking to The Huffington Post, Brown Findlay said: "The day Sybil died I was flying out to film in New York. Normally when you land somewhere, you get a couple of messages, but I had an onslaught from people saying, 'You could have warned me'.

"Even my parents knew I was dying, but they didn't know how, so my mum was in bits. My dad had to tell her, 'You can call her on the phone'."

Brown Findlay said that she was eager to exit Downton to pursue new projects: "Julian [Fellowes, creator] did such an amazing job with Sybil that it was a really exciting way to go out. I had to keep very quiet about it. I was desperate to do more, to push myself creatively.

"I'd been off to do Black Mirror, Misfits and Labyrinth during a gap, and it was such a fruitful time, and I learned so much."

Downton Abbey returns later this year.