Kiri Te Kanawa makes Downton cast cry

14 August 2013, 09:30 | Updated: 14 August 2013, 10:50

The cast of ITV's Downton Abbey were reduced to tears by a performance from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa during filming of the the programme's forthcoming fourth season.

The show's producer Gareth Neame described the scene when Te Kanawa came on set to record one of two performances: "It was the sight of all these tough electricians and grips and all the people you see on a film set with tears in their eyes and wiping a tear away."

He added: "It was quite a special day."

The Kiwi soprano was announced earlier this year as a new cast member, but it has now emerged that she is playing the role of Dame Nellie Melba (a real opera singer from history, and the show's first non-fictional character).

Describing her time on set as part of the show, Dame Kiri said: "I could not say yes fast enough, it was the most wonderful experience." In the show, the character of Dame Nellie Melba is a house guest at Downton Abbey.

Other guest stars in the new series include ex-EastEnders actor Nigel Harman and Harriet Walter, as well as a returning role for US actress Shirley MacLaine.