Downton Abbey’s Rob James-Collier has explained why he currently has a shaved head.

The actor, who plays Thomas Barrow in the hit ITV drama, told E! his new look was for a very different role.

He said: “I shaved it off for a role where I was playing a crazy psychotic drug dealer.”

But Rob reassured Downton Abbey fans he would be back to his usual do for the new series with the help of a wig.

“It’s the king of wigs,” he said. “It cost about £4,000. As wigs go, it’s beautiful. And it means if I ever go bald, I can stick the wig on so I’ll always have work.”

Rob’s character Thomas is the Abbey’s gay under butler who is on the loo-out for a new partner in crime after the departure of Miss O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran).

He said of his search for a new ‘evil partner’: “He goes through a few, but he gets one eventually. Whether he lasts, we’ll have to see.”

Downton Abbey fans hoping to see a romance for Thomas could be disappointed, said Rob. “I can’t see it on the horizon, to be honest. He’s been unlucky in love. I mean, when you go around kissing men while they’re asleep you’re not going to get a positive response… You can’t go around doing that. It’s not the way to strike up a relationship. Take him on a few dates at least.

“If Thomas did find love, he’d probably be in a jail cell.”