Downton Abbey actor Brendan Coyle has voiced his concern about an “X Factor generation” who fail to accept that they do not have what it takes to be a star.

Brendan, 48, who plays valet Bates in the ITV1 series, said that he dreamt of following in the footsteps of his great uncle Matt Busby, by becoming a footballer.

But the Bafta-nominated actor told the Radio Times: “Luckily, I was told by the age of 13 that I wasn’t good enough, and that’s not a bad thing. You see this X Factor generation of kids now who don’t accept that they’re not good enough.”

The star said that he was still baffled by the sex symbol status he had acquired since Downton.

“The strangest thing is where the fan mail comes from. I’ve had letters from an outpost in Alaska, New Zealand…”, he said. “It’s the breadth of it that really blows my mind.”

Brendan told the magazine he would “like to posh up a bit” for future roles.

“I’ve never been cast in a Noel Coward play but I would love to be. After Downton I was offered a lot of moody men – the moody man in the beard, the moody man in the hat, the moody man with a spear….”, he said.