Hugh Bonneville found working in a pub ''really bleak''.

The 'Downton Abbey' star took a job in a bar to fund a planned trip travelling across Africa to India but hated the experience so much, he opted to clean toilets elsewhere instead.

He said: ''It was around 1982, and I had to save £400 to travel across Africa to India.

''I tried working in a pub up Edgware Road in London. It was bleak, really bleak.

''there was a three-legged dog in the corner and one bloke at the bar and the room was full of cigarette smoke. It was depressing beyond hell.

''I thought, 'However much I want to fly across the world, I can't do this.' That's why I took up the toilet cleaning, at a legal firm in Marylebone.''

The 53-year-old actor planned to become a barrister if his acting career hadn't taken off but thinks he'd have been ''terrible'' in the courtroom because he isn't focused enough.

He admitted to Radio Times magazine: ''I'd have been terrible. My mind wouldn't have focused. I wouldn't have been able to retain case law and all that. I think I'm a shirker rather than a sherpa.

''I was attracted to the performance side, rather than being a sensible solicitor with a steady income.

''I used to spend time watching the law courts when I was a teenager. I would go along like a nerd in the holiday and just find out about it. In retrospect, I was probably watching the theatricality.''

Despite his career success, the 'Paddington' star insists he never takes work for granted.

He said: ''You know, you're always convinced the next job will be the last one.''