(WARNING: Article could contain spoilers)London - Joanne Froggatt was ''moved'' by all the letters she received following her Downton Abbey character's rape but is shocked the show has reached a fifth series.
The 33-year-old star admitted she felt ''very touched'' to be inundated with such positive responses after her character Anna Bates suffered a sexual assault - which caused controversy with some viewers resulting in 200 complaints to media watchdog Ofcom - in the fourth season.
Speaking at a Q&A in central London to launch the fifth series of the popular period drama, she said: ''It's all been positive in responses to the storyline. I got a small number of letters from women who'd gone through similar experiences and felt Anna was a character they could connect with.
''That was very touching for me ... It was a moving experience.''
Despite the success of series four, Joanne cannot believe the ITV period drama has run into a fifth series because the blonde beauty used to joke she was the ''kiss of death'' to shows because she never managed to appear in a second season of any programme until Downton.
She said: ''None of us would've dared expect the success of Downton. I was joking when we first started filming saying I'm the kiss of death to any show because I've never done a second series of anything, so if I'm in it then it definitely won't keep going.''
After making it to series five, which is set in 1924 during the Labour government's first rise to power, executive producer Gareth Neame joked the show could even go on to incorporate Margaret Thatcher's landslide election win in 1983, before admitting he hopes the show will return for a sixth series.
The fourth series was filled with heavy drama in the shape of Anna's assault and it also saw Michelle Dockery's character Lady Mary Crawley in mourning following the death of her husband Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) - but Downton bosses have confirmed series five will be lighter.Producer Liz Trubridge said: ''Last series, it was straight after Matthew's death and we couldn't go in with great fun.
''We do not have that this year. There is, you will be happy to hear, great rivalry again between Mary and Edith.''
The first episode of the fifth series - which features cameos from a host of top stars including Richard E. Grant and Sue Johnston - hints that the upcoming season will be the series of love in Downton as several possible romances are hinted at, while there is a fiery conclusion.
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