Downton Abbey star Lily James has said she has to keep reminding herself her role on the show is real and not a dream.

The actress – who appeared at the end of the last series as flighty Lady Rose – will have a bigger role this time around as she is sent to Downton to be under the watchful eye of the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith).

And she admitted: “I still feel a bit like ‘am I really in this show’? It’s such a huge thing and it’s so great and it’s just a brilliant drama.

Lily added: “I watched it, and to be in it and be a part of the whole series is absolutely wonderful, and it’s been a great opportunity for me because I’m just starting out.

“It’s not my first job, but Downton feels like your first job because it’s so huge it’s like nothing else mattered before!”

The series returns to ITV on Sunday night at 9pm, with the family still in mourning in the aftermath of Matthew Crawley’s shock death.

However Lily promised that Rose will help bring the fun back to Downton.

“It’s very sombre and sad because Matthew’s died, so she’s trying to behave and fit, and then as the series progresses, she’s trying to have fun and live life to the full,” the actress explained.

“She’s like a flapper, that wave of passion and dancing and drinking.”