Downton Abbey star Laura Carmichael may have been unlucky in love in the hit period drama but in real life she is set to share the stage with her "first crush".

The actress, who has shot to fame as Lady Edith Crawley in the ITV1 period drama, will be treading the boards on the London stage in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, alongside Samuel West, next month.

She told the Radio Times that she had an obsession with the British actor 13 years ago, when he starred in the 1989 TV series Prince Caspian And The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader.

"I'm pinching myself now because I'm about to share the stage with him. You want to go back in time and whisper in the ear of your 10-year-old self: 'One day you'll end up doing a play with Prince Caspian'," she said.

Laura said that she had confessed her former obsession to Samuel, adding: "Luckily, in the play, Uncle Vanya, I suffer from unrequited love, I'm besotted with Sam West's character.

"The producer asked me if I thought it would be easy to be in love with Sam West, how I blushed."

Laura also revealed she found it difficult to watch herself in Downton Abbey.

"When it's a storyline involving Edith my heart beats faster and I want the seat to swallow me up, but I have to watch it to find out what's going on downstairs," she said. "Of course I've read the script, but I want to see it. So my sisters come round, and sometimes my fake Downton ones, too, and we watch it together."

She added of her alter-ego: "The great thing about Edith not having a long-running romance is I get so many fellows. I get to meet great actors and show off my beaus at the wrap party. Humiliation and heartache for Edith, but quite fun for me!"

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