Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey, has said he's amazed that the movie version of the hit drama ever made it to the big screen.

Speaking to RTÉ Entertainment in London, the actor said, "The idea for the movie first came on our radar during season five of the show and I remember our executive producer asking me what I thought the mood would be and I said 'Good luck with that! Because once everyone’s finished they’re all going to be off in different parts of the world’.

Read our review of the Downton Abbey movie

"But by the end of season six there was certainly talk of it and the prospect of it but it was a question of herding the cats and getting everyone back together and then Julian Fellowes had a couple of iterations of the story he wanted to tell and it was a bit of a miracle that three years later we started filming."

Elizabeth McGovern returns as Lady Grantham 

The new film is set in 1927, just a year after the TV series ended, and centres on a visit to Downton by King George V and Queen Mary.

Many of the cast members from the original series have returned, including Dame Maggie Smith, Laura Carmichael, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, and Dublin-born actor Alan Leech, who plays Branston.

The two-hour movie, which is in Irish cinemas on Friday, is very much like an extended episode of the hugely successful TV drama but Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Bonneville’s on-screen wife Lady Grantham on the show and in the movie, says that the big screen version is a very cinematic experience.

Downton Abbey is in cinemas on Friday 

"The funny thing is, as an actor making TV or film is very much the same for me, no matter what it is," she said. "I saw the movie last night for the first time and it really felt to me like real cinema because the camera is always swirling around and going up and the music is swelling in a way that is just really fun, it’s buzzy. It gave me goosebumps!"

Alan Corr @CorrAlan2

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