Michelle Dockery reveals why her character Lady Mary has a big decision to make in this weekend’s second episode of Downton Abbey on ITV1 (Sunday)…

Why does Mary invite newspaper mogul Sir Richard Carlisle (Iain Glen) to Downton this week?
“Mary is very obviously still in love with Matthew, who rejected her, and she’s devastated he’s now engaged so she’s moving quickly to find her own love! She invites Richard, who she met in London, to dinner to meet her family.”

Sir Richard ends up proposing to Mary, but does she actually like him?
“Sir Richard is very attractive, and he’s ‘new money’, which Mary is very much attracted to. She knows if she were with him she’d have a very exciting life. He works in newspapers and they’d wine and dine at some swanky places and be at great parties. But their relationship feels very businesslike – he wants the status her class brings him and she’d be something of trophy wife.”

So is such a whirlwind relationship a wise thing for Mary?
“Mary’s full of regret about what happened between her and Matthew, and while she’d like to marry for love, she runs the risk of being left on the shelf. Mary’s not sure of Richard’s intentions, but it would be a convenient partnership. This might make her seem cynical and calculating but in truth, she’s indecisive and troubled.”

How is Mary dealing with the war?
“At first Mary’s quite reluctant to help out. When Downton eventually becomes a convalescent home for recovering soldiers she doesn’t get her hands quite as dirty as her sisters. But something happens that changes her and she becomes much softer.”

What’s it like wearing so many of Mary’s fantastic costumes?
“The corset was like an Edwardian gastric band – it’s physically impossible to eat a lot, and slouching isn’t an option. I love the elegance, although women have a lot more freedom now.”

While you’re on set, is Hugh Bonneville a bit of a father figure to the three of you playing the Earl’s daughters?
“Hugh’s certainly like the leader of the pack, he looks out for everybody and is so lovely. He’s got a great sense of humour, and so has Maggie Smith, who’s always quipping.”