George Clooney to appear in Downton Abbey charity Christmas episode

The actor will play an American guest at a wedding on the country estate

George Clooney is to star in ITV drama Downton Abbey for a special charity episode this Christmas.

The Hollywood actor will play an American character who is a guest at a wedding on the county estate.

The show, which will be broadcast at Christmas, was written to raise money for the channel’s charity fundraiser called Text Santa for ITV.

An ITV spokesperson said Clooney would only appear in a sketch, and will not act in a full Christmas episode.

The 53-year-old has already filmed the scenes for the Christmas sketch, but a spokesperson for the period drama declined to give away any further details to avoid spoiling the surprise for viewers.

Clooney is reportedly a big fan of Downton Abbey and is said to be friendly with Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Robert Crawley, after the pair became close while filming war film The Monuments Men together.

Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, confirmed earlier this month that Clooney and his finance Amal Alamuddin had visited the Downton set along with other celebrities including JJ Abrams, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Pippa Middleton and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Clooney is the latest US actor to appear in the series following guest appearances from Shirley MacLaine and Paul Giamatti.

American actress Elizabeth McGovern has starred in the show as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham since the drama first began in 2010.

Downton Abbey, which debuted on US channel PBS in 2011, is the channel’s highest-rated drama ever and has gone on to win 11 Emmy Awards.

Downton Abbey returns to ITV on Sunday 22 September.

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