Downton Abbey's gruesome dinner party scene explained

Hugh Bonneville's distressing dinner party scene in Downton Abbey came as shock to viewers watching Sunday night's episode, and it seems filming it wasn't pleasant for the cast either. Hugh's character Lord Grantham suffers a burst ulcer and projectile vomits blood across and around the table, spraying his fellow guests.

Michael C Fox, who plays footman Andrew Parker on the period drama, opened up about the gruesome scene on This Morning.

"It was pretty graphic! Someone spilt the coulis!" joked Michael, 26. "Filming it was pretty graphic. Hugh was so good at it because we only had one take because they couldn't reset the tables and stuff and his shirt, and the distance it travelled was slightly further than Elizabeth [McGovern] was expecting… we had to keep going."

"It was pretty graphic! Someone spilt the coulis!" joked Michael C Fox

Confessing that it made him feel a little faint, Michael added: "When you see the [fake] blood, blood drains out of your face – well, I do, I feel quite faint when I see that sort of thing – so I'm in the background [thinking] 'Oh my God', [pretends to be sick] but no, I couldn't do that!"

Michael joined Downton at the end of series five, and will continue to star in the first half of series six – the final series.

Speaking previously to The Evening Standard about his role, Michael said: "Andy could have been just another footman, but [writer] Julian [Fellowes] has given me some lovely stuff. It goes out with a bang. Julian is very aware of people's expectations of characters and loves to turn them on their heads. Characters we have grown to love get tied up in a way we don't expect."

Hugh Bonneville's character Lord Grantham suffers a burst ulcer in Sunday's episode

Sunday night's episode came with a warning that was broadcast before it aired – a voiceover announcing that it contained "scenes of a frightening nature".

Fans expressed their shock and horror at the turn of events, with many comparing the scene to one from a horror film or Game of Thrones. TV host Lorraine Kelly tweeted: "Crikey – wasn't expecting that – like John Hurt in Alien. #DowntonAbbey."