Michelle Dockery has said she feels she and the rest of the cast of Downton Abbey have grown alongside the show, and that they enjoy looking back at earlier series.

The actress, who stars as Lady Mary Crawley in the ITV hit period drama, says she likes to look back at how far they had come.

Downton Abbey is now going into its fifth series and Michelle said: “It’s lovely to be back on the show again, and because it’s the fifth year, we find ourselves reminiscing much more. There’s a sense of nostalgia this year because we’re that much further on.

“And some pictures from the first series make us go, ‘Oh my God! We were so young’. We’ve all grown up together in a lot of ways. It’s a lovely thing, really.”

Michelle added that she could relate to Lady Mary, whose confidence has changed in tone since the first series. “It was a brashness that came from insecurity, whereas now it’s different. She’s very confident in her own skin, and I guess that’s the parallel, really, with my own life; I feel like I’ve reached a point now where I’m much more content and confident.

Julian [Fellowes, Downton Abbey creator] writes so well for women,” Michelle continued. “He’s got a very good way with families. We’re all very lucky that we’re playing roles that are very complex, not just two-dimensional and predictable.”

Downton Abbey will return to ITV later this year.