Downton Abbey's cousin Matthew is Booker Prize judge
Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens has joined the judges for next year's Man Booker Prize.
The actor, who plays Matthew Crawley in the country house drama and studied English Literature at Cambridge University, will have to work his way through more than 100 novels as the judges whittle them down to around a dozen and then a shortlist of six.
Joining him on the judging panel are broadcaster and historian Amanda Foreman and academics Dinah Birch and Bharat Tandon.
The panel's chairman, Times Literary Supplement editor Sir Peter Stothard, said they would approach the job with "enthusiasm and expectation".
He said: "We have two of Britain's finest professional critics, with expertise in novels from the 18th to the 21st century, a distinguished actor who is also an accomplished literary critic and an historian who is one of the most successful biographers of our time. We are all looking forward to a feisty Man Booker year - with a background of Jane Austen, John Ruskin, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, the Times Literary Supplement and even a hint of the library at Downton Abbey."
Dan Stevens is also Editor at Large of a new online literary journal for poetry, essays and prose writing. The actor and Cambridge graduate co-launched the journal, named The Junket, with some university friends.
The judges announced a longlist of 12 or 13 books in July, followed by a shortlist of six in September.
The winner is to be announced at London's Guildhall on October 16.
This year's £50,000 prize was won by Julian Barnes for his novel The Sense Of An Ending.