Veteran British actor Tom Courtenay deliberately avoided watching Dame Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey before playing her love interest onscreen because he didn't want to be "put off".

Courtenay puckers up to kiss Smith in their movie Quartet, about a group of retired opera singers, and admits he didn't want to see her as feisty character the Dowager Countess of Grantham in the hit Tv show before their big moment.

He says, "I was scared of her. Particularly, the love scenes. I had to deliberately not watch Downton Abbey while she was being my love interest as I thought if I pictured that character she plays it would put me off. She's hardly a love interest is she, the Dowager?"