Nigel Havers joins cast of Downton Abbey

Nigel Havers has joined the cast of 'Downton Abbey'.

The former 'Coronation Street' charmer - who played male escort Lewis Archer in the ITV1 soap earlier this year - will portray aristocrat Lord Hepworth when the period drama returns to screens this Christmas.

Additionally, 'The Inspector Linley Mysteries' star Sharon Small has also been signed up for a major role in the ITV1 show in a bid to "keep up the momentum" of 'Downton' following the success of series one last year.

An insider said: "Nigel and Sharon will be the perfect additions to this year's 'Downton'. They are incredibly talented actors and are already hugely popular with our audience.

"After the success of last year's series bosses are determined to keep up the momentum by introducing high-profile stars to keep viewers excited. There's massive anticipation ahead of the second series and brining in well known faces like Nigel will help the show come back with a bang."

ITV bosses are said to be thrilled to have signed up ladies' favourite Nigel for a role in 'Downton' - which also stars Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville - in a bid to top the 11 million viewers the show drew in at the end of the first series.

A 'Downton Abbey' spokesperson told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "We're very excited that Nigel Havers and Sharon Small will be joining the cast later this year. They are looking forward to getting started on set."

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