Cold Feet star Robert Bathurst is wheeled in to Downton Abbey as a potential husband in this Sunday’s episode on ITV1.

Tell us about your character in Downton…
“I play Sir Anthony Strallon, a neighbouring gentleman farmer and a widower. He’s a rather sweet character, gentle and friendly and with no sides to him.”

And the Earl and Cora think he’s a potential husband for Mary?
“Yes, he’s invited to dinner, but Mary finds him very boring! He’s obsessed by mechanisation in farming – which doesn’t make for the best dinner conversation! But Edith is quite engaged by him, even though she’s much younger. She shows an interest in him and his ideas over dinner and he rather takes a shine to her, in a delightful and gentle way. He’s got a Rolls-Royce and wants to take her out driving.”

So the dinner is a success for him?
“Not really. Things go slightly awry because of one of the sisters. He doesn’t have a clue that Mary is the sharp-tongued creature she is! And then he has an embarrassment, where he ends up almost throwing up over Lady Grantham…”

Did you have to learn all the etiquette of a posh Edwardian dinner?
“Yes, they’re very particular about the etiquette, but I think what’s good about the series is that it’s not just about the design and production. It’s character-led and the etiquette is secondary. I think sometimes other series get it the wrong way around.”

We hear you’re playing John Le Mesurier in the BBC’s upcoming drama about his wife, Hattie Jacques?
“Yes, it’s an interesting story and one that’s worth telling, I think. It’s a rather unusual marriage that they had. Certainly when her affair was discovered, his reaction to it was unusual!”

*Downton Abbey screens on Sunday at 9pm on ITV1