Cora! Those X Factor slapdowns are painful, says Downton star Elizabeth

Downton Abbey star Elizabeth McGovern has said she finds it "painful" to see hopefuls "slapped down" on The X Factor.

Outside of acting, the 54-year-old actress fronts her own band called Sadie and the Hotheads and will soon play a series of gigs, including London's Bush Hall on October 30.

Talking to the Press Association, the star said of ITV's singing show: "Well, I think of course, it's a great opportunity for people who have talent to get exposure, but there's a lot of dangers to the discovery of music by that kind of process.

"I find it very painful to see people go up and get slapped down so immediately and I think it's a dangerous habit to get into where everybody is judging within two seconds somebody's musical expression.

"My hope would be that people are open to discovering music in different ways, to taking that risk on a new band and really sitting down and listening to them in a live context that goes on more than two seconds and a gong.

"It rules out a lot of really interesting artists; it's hard to imagine how far Bob Dylan would have gotten if he had to go through that process in order to become the singer songwriter that he's become. I like to encourage people to support other ways of keeping music alive."

Following her 1992 marriage to British director Simon Curtis, the American-born actress moved to the UK where her eclectic taste in music flourished.

"I love Lily Allen!" she enthused. "George Ezra is a really inspiring person in music to me, so is Taylor Swift."

She went on to detail an appreciation of rap music. "I love Eminem, I just think he's a lyrical inspiration. I just watched this movie Straight Outta Compton, which I loved," she said.

As an American, McGovern has her eye on events across the Atlantic, including the fight for the Republican presidential nomination.

"Personally, I'm not a Donald Trump fan. I'm very impressed by Hillary Clinton and that is definitely where my vote will be going," she stated.

When asked about the spate of mass shootings in the US, the star sighed. "That's another issue that is a very, very upsetting one to many, many Americans," she said.

"America was formed on a beautiful set of ideals about people living freely and having the right to participate in the pursuit of their own happiness and all these things that are so impressive and yet, the fact that they can't bring in legislation to monitor the sale of guns is deeply, deeply upsetting things to many Americans, including me."

Best known for playing Downton's Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham since 2010, following the end of ITV's international smash hit McGovern's immediate plans centre on music.

"I feel really lucky because I've worked very hard on this show for six years so I feel like I'm in a position where I have the right to take some time to do the things that I really want to do, that I really believe in," she said.

"I'm going to indulge that for a while, I'm not going to rush into anything unless I really love it."

Music is definitely a passion for the actress, demonstrated in her opinion on the ongoing debate surrounding music streaming royalties.

"The musical culture is such a huge part of what's made the UK great. You think of this tiny little country on this tiny little island and yet their music has influenced people over the entire world, but how can that continue to go on if musicians cannot earn a living any more?" she said.

On a happier subject, McGovern is looking forward to hitting the road with Sadie and the Hotheads.

"I'm absolutely addicted to it!" she admitted. "I love hanging out with the audience after the show."

She added: "Sometimes I look out and I see people that have clearly come to the show because of a Downton connection - they're sometimes holding a Downton Abbey book in their lap and I can see that they might be expecting a string quartet or something like that.

"But then as the show goes on, I see that there's a smile on their face and I feel really proud of that."

For more details about Sadie and the Hotheads visit the official site