Joanne Froggatt

The Downton Abbey actress and Golden Globe-winner on Christmas at Downton, her earliest Christmas memory and switching on The Royal Exchange Christmas-tree lights

05 November, 2019


WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO FILM DOWNTON AROUND CHRISTMAS TIME? IT MUST HAVE BEEN MAGICAL…

We always filmed the Christmas special in the summer, but it was still magical. One year we had an enormous tree in the middle of the Grand Hall where we were all singing Christmas carols. It felt very festive, even though it was August.


WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON THIS YEAR, AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP IN 2020?

This year has been really busy. Earlier this year I was performing at The Bridge Theatre in the world premiere of Lucinda Coxon’s Alys, Always with director Nicholas Hytner. I loved this experience.

I’ve also been filming the second series of Liar for Sundance TV and ITV, and I’ve just returned from Australia after playing the lead in a new eight-part television series, The Commons, which I’m very excited about.


WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

It has to be winning the Golden Globe for Downton Abbey. It was a fairy tale experience.


HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU WERE ASKED TO TURN ON THIS YEAR’S CHRISTMAS-TREE LIGHTS AT THE ROYAL EXCHANGE?

I feel really honoured. I love Christmas and it will be a wonderful way to begin the festive season.


HOW DO YOU DECORATE YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE?

I am very particular about my decorations. I like my tree to be classic and co-ordinated and usually opt for different tones of gold. And it’s always a star on top of the tree.

HOW WILL YOU BE SPENDING CHRISTMAS DAY?

We usually host for both mine and my husband’s family. We like to have a traditional type of cosy Christmas. Full of food and surrounded by loved ones.


WHAT EPITOMISES CHRISTMAS IN LONDON FOR YOU?

It always feels like Christmas has started when I see the lights on Oxford Street. The frenzy of the festive season with a backdrop of twinkling lights always sets the scene.


WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST CHRISTMAS MEMORY?

I remember being a very small child and lying underneath the Christmas tree, mesmerised by the lights.


WHAT SMELLS AND TASTES DO YOU ASSOCIATE WITH THE FESTIVE PERIOD?

I love the smell of mulled wine – the cinnamon and all the festive spices.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS DESSERT?

Definitely Christmas cake.


WHAT’S YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFT-WRAPPING STYLE?

I am quite elaborate with my Christmas wrapping. I like to add all the extras with ribbon and additional decoration. I love watching a festive movie while sat wrapping presents; I find it really calming.


DO YOU OWN A CHRISTMAS JUMPER?

I do indeed. It is black, but with lots of blingy festive baubles, diamanté decorations and bows.


WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS FILM?

Gremlins. I watch this every Christmas without fail, while wrapping presents.


DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS SONG?

I love all the classic crooner songs: Sinatra, Bing Crosby…


WHAT SIGNIFIES THE START OF THE FESTIVE SEASON FOR YOU?

It has to be all the lights coming up and the preparations starting.


WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST WAY TO HELP OTHERS AT CHRISTMASTIME?

I think Christmas is a time of year when we are all reminded to think of others. Many of us give more at Christmas, whether that’s our time, charitable donations or our love. I try and remind myself to keep this up all year round and not just for the festive season.


Actress Joanne Froggatt is best known for playing Anna Bates in Downton Abbey, a role for which she won a Golden Globe. More recently she starred in ITV’s Liar and can soon be seen in Australian TV series The Commons. In 2017, she set up production company Run After It with her husband actor James Cannon. Join us to see Joanne Froggatt turn on The Royal Exchange Christmas tree lights on Wednesday 20 November, from 5.30pm.