Downton Abbey star Matthew Goode on playing a suave vampire in A Discovery of Witches

Fans of Deborah Harkness’ popular All Souls trilogy of books will already know that A Discovery of Witches is the story of an exceptionally powerful witch, Diana Bishop, who tries not to use her magic and wants to focus on her academic career instead.

But when Diana innocently asks for a book at Oxford’s Bodleian Library she doesn’t realise it’s bewitched, and soon finds herself face to face with all sorts of “creatures”, including a handsome vampire, Matthew Clairmont, played by Matthew Goode.

Taking a break from blood-sucking, here Downton Abbey and The Crown star Matthew Goode, 40, tells us more about Sky1’s A Discovery of Witches

What is Matthew like?

Matthew Goode: “He’s a 1,500-year-old vampire so he’s seen a lot! He’s been through quite a bit, he lost a son, which he never forgives himself for, and he gets quite excitable and has to keep himself in check. He’s quite a noble character and he means well.”

How does he meet Diana?

MG: “There’s a book called the Ashmole 782. It’s an enchanted manuscript, a bit like the Holy Grail. Initially he sees Diana [played by Australian film star Teresa Palmer] to find out where the book is, but then they start to learn a bit about each other and sparks fly.”

Is it them against the world?

MG: “It’s a forbidden love story – there’s a council of three witches, three demons and three vampires, and hundreds of years ago they made a pact that nobody can fall in love with someone from another species. You can’t have a vampire and a witch together… or can you?”

How was filming in Oxford?

MG: “We’ve been there a lot. It’s beautiful and at the centre of the story. We also have the most extraordinary set in Cardiff, with an exact replica of the Bodleian… That’s where all the money’s gone!”

You play a modern vampire without the stereotypical cape or fangs – but it must still be an odd experience as an actor?

MG: “Yes, he’s well-dressed because he’s trying to be inconspicuous. He feeds on stags, so I was just filming with a stag head on a metal pole. I really hope some special effects are added afterwards, otherwise it will look very weird!”

A Discovery of Witches starts on Sky1 tonight at 9pm.