Siobhan Finneran: Why I quit Downton

Downton Abbey star Siobhan Finneran has spoken out about her decision to quit the show, saying that it was time to move on.

The 47-year-old - who plays scheming maid Sarah O'Brien in Downton (opens in new tab) - said in an interview with the Daily Mail that she had been wanting to leave the series for a while - but denied it was a career-motivated move.

"I signed up to do three series and that's all I wanted to do," Siobhan said. "I just talked it through with my family and it was the right decision for all of us.

"I had great fun doing it but I just didn't want to do it any more," she added. "I decided this before I even did the last series. When I stop loving something I stop doing it."

Unlike former co-star Dan Stevens however - whose character Matthew Crawley was killed off in a shocking car crash at Christmas - Siobhan has been given the option to return in the future, but admitted she had "no idea" how her character would leave the show. 

And the actress, who is now starring in BBC One drama The Syndicate, added she was grateful to the series for boosting her career.

"Downton has really pushed me to a new level in my career," she revealed. "But it's not like I have a big career plan. They are about as useful as birth plans; they should be burned."