For six years Downton Abbey has kept the nation enthralled with the scandalous story of the Crawley family and their hired help. Now, as the sixth and final season of the popular ITV show comes to an end, Michelle Dockery who plays the ever graceful Lady Mary Crawley, tells HELLO! Online about her most memorable experiences on-set.
Michelle Dockery reflects on her most memorable moments as Downton Abbey finishes
Naturally, Michelle claims the most exciting day of filming was in March, when the Duchess of Cambridge née Kate Middleton, paid a visit after revealing she was a fan of the series. Describing the experience as "magical," the 33-year-old revealed that Kate took the time to greet every crew member and appeared to be in awe of the set.
It was the costumes that really grabbed the Duchess' attention, however, and she spent a good deal of time discussing them with designer Anna Robbins, who, like the royal, graduated with a degree in Art History.
Nor will Michelle, who previously featured in successful series such as Cranford and Waking the Dead, ever forget the experience of working with some of the veteran cast.
"Working with the likes of Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton, watching them work, working alongside them, has been an education," she said. "And then it has also been like a history lesson on the period. I have learnt to ride and I have learnt about the fashion of the era and the style."
Kate is a fan of the period drama so decided to visit the set
Despite working alongside such successful actors, Michelle never imagined just how big the show would become. She revealed just how shocked she was to see a picture of herself and the cast on the front pages of newspapers just two weeks after the first episode had aired.
"I could not believe it," she admitted. "That was a big, big moment. From then on it just kind of grew and grew. Suddenly, I was in New York being recognised by people and there have been some real pinch yourself moments as the years have gone on."
After six years the well-loved period drama has come to an end
But all good things must come to an end, and Michelle revealed she felt physically sick as she prepared to film the drama's final scene which was with her charcter's father figure, the butler Mr Carson.
"It was such a mixture of emotion," she explained. "My last scene I was below stairs, which was really poignant for me. It was such a lovely way to end it, particularly with Jim Carter (Mr Carson). I liked it that Mary and Carson had their final moment together."
Her relationship with Matthew Crawley (played by Dan Stevens) was also special and truly hooked the public. It was their scenes together which have proved to be the most memorable for Michelle.
"Being at the train station with Matthew in series two, that was a really special scene," she said. "And the proposal at the end of that series."
Downton Abbey is one of the most watched series in the world
The costumes were obviously a big part of Michelle's Downton experience and she revealed that some of her favourite outfits were from series six. She said: "There are lots of pearls, a lot of Chanel influence, and fabulous hats this year. I get to wear some really great hats and I do at one stage wear sunglasses, which was very risqué, very new."
Luckily for Michelle, her latest role allows her to remain in period costume, as she will be taking to the stage for an adaption of the 18th-century novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
At first glance the French tale of two former lovers who challenge each other to humiliate and torture strangers seems to be a complete departure from Downton. But as Michelle explained: "It is Mary's world, really, but a very different character."
Once the play has finished its run Michelle will be working on a film and a television pilot and hopes to try her hand at directing, so this certainly isn't the last we'll see of her.
Downtown Abbey Series 6 is released on Blu-Ray and DVD from 16 November 2015 from Universal Pictures (UK)
And even though Downton Abbey has played a pivotal role in her life and career, there is one thing she won't miss as she moves on to pursue other projects.
"Those cold mornings at Highclere Castle!" she joked. "It is like a wind tunnel around that house."
DOWNTON ABBEY SERIES 6 is released on Blu-RayTM and DVD from 16 November 2015 from Universal Pictures (UK).