Elizabeth McGovern

As the Dowager Countess might say, "Good heavens!" Downton Abbey star Elizabeth McGovern is looking to clarify comments she says have now been misinterpreted as a slam against the hit PBS drama.

Speaking in New York at the Tribeca Film Festival to promote her new feature Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, McGovern admitted to the Los Angeles Times that season two of Downton had "a slightly different tone... partly because the show had to deal with this elephant which is the First World War" — and that meant that the writers "had to do a lot of glossing over the domestic life, and some of the small moments between characters that characterized the first season." She added that "the show in the first season was more to my taste than the show in the second season."

Several follow-up reports in the U.S. and the U.K. touted those comments as a knock against the show — but McGovern says those stories went too far. In a statement obtained by TV Guide Magazine from a spokesperson for Carnival Films, producers of Downton Abbey, McGovern — who plays Lady Cora Crawley, the American countess behind the massive Downton Abbey estate — seeks to set the record straight.

"I am horrified that my comments about the second series of Downton Abbey have been taken out of context and misinterpreted," she says. ["Seasons" are referred to as "series" in the U.K.] "I was in no way criticizing the second season or implying that I loved or enjoyed it less."

McGovern adds: "When asked about the second series, I said that the tone differed slightly from the first. There would be some people who would naturally prefer the more domestic detail of series one and others who would love the faster pace and heightened drama of the war years. That does not translate that series two was any less entertaining than series one — and many millions of people around the world agree with me."

Also, "Julian Fellowes is a brilliant writer and I am proud and privileged to be part of this show. The third season is so rich with character detail, storylines and new faces that I can't wait for people to see it."

Downton Abbey is expected to be a strong contender at this year's Emmy Awards. The third season is expected to air in the U.K. this fall and return to PBS next January.

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