There’s a strange kind of dichotomy in soap land; Downton Abbey is considered a highbrow, period drama, aired on ITV – not everyone’s idea of premium television, while Eastenders remains the jewell in the crown of The BBC – Britain’s most respected sitcom.

And there’s a further caveat; most of the people who love a bit of East-end drama, are lapping up Downton Abbey. They take the rough with the smooth; the gritty with the glitzy; the real and the ridiculous. Hugh Bonneville – lauded for his role in Downton – used to star in Eastenders, and wouldn’t write them off if they offered him a return to the square. “I might go back. I am a jobbing actor and I will take whatever comes along, thank you very much. I would never say never,” he told The Mirror in an interview. “The actors who work in soaps are the hardest working actors. The amount of material they have to learn is so much. It’s phenomenal."

Hugh BonnevilleHugh and his Downton Abbey buddies

Talk has been rife that Downton might enter its fifth season. Writer, Julian Fellowes, is currently penning series four but is committed to an American drama called The Gilded Age, too. “I honestly don’t know how long Julian can go on with Downton – I don’t know if there will be a fifth series. I am sure the money men would like it to go on for ever and ever because it does sell extremely well around the world,” Bonneville said, adding: “I hope Julian quits while he is ahead but he is a wise soul.”