Bradford actress Sophie McShera says returning to hit TV series Downton Abbey was like “going back to school”.

Sophie plays kitchen maid Daisy in the period drama, which returns for a third series tomorrow.

Set in the Yorkshire country house of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, the drama follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants below stairs.

This time the cast, including Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville, is joined by Hollywood star Shirley MacClaine, playing the Earl’s mother-in-law, Martha Levinson.

Sophie, of Eccleshill , has been in the show since it started and is confident that fans will love the new series, which enters the 1920s.

“As soon as I read the script I had that same excitement I had when I got my script for episode one of the first series,” she said. “And of course with Julian Fellowes scripting, the stories are brilliant. I can’t wait for everyone to see what happens.”

This series sees Daisy promoted to assistant cook. But the introduction of new kitchen maid Ivy and new footman Alfred, who turns her head, means Daisy is not in the happiest of places.

“She does a bit of Patmore-style bossy-booting with Ivy,” said Sophie. “Ivy’s prettier and everyone fancies her and somehow Daisy’s still bottom of the ladder, even though strictly speaking she’s not anymore. Nobody’s paying her any attention.”

In the last series Daisy’s marriage to footman William Mason was shortlived when he was killed in the First World War. Now she finds happiness away from Downton Abbey, on her father-in-law’s farm.

“I love the scenes with Paul Copley, who plays Mr Mason. Their relationship is just lovely and he’s the one person, apart from Mrs Patmore, who really cares for her.

“He is the first person to see real potential in her. Daisy is a bit bewildered, but flattered by his generosity and kindness,” said Sophie.

Despite spending most of her scenes in the kitchen of the country house, Sophie said she hasn’t picked up any culinary skills. “We tend to pretend a bit more rather than actually making anything. I can make getting peas out of a pan and putting them in a bowl last a whole scene,” she smiled.

A former pupil of St Joseph's College, Manningham , Sophie had roles in TV dramas Waterloo Road, Survivors and Emmerdale as a teenager.

Downton Abbey has been a huge hit both sides of the Atlantic, picking up countless awards. The first two series attracted up to 12 million viewers and a Christmas special was the most watched programme in the UK over the festive season last year.