Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville will join Sheridan Smith as hosts of this year’s Olivier Awards.

The star of stage and screen will join double Olivier Award-winning actress Smith on stage at the stunning Royal Opera House on 28 April to oversee the most prestigious event in the theatre awards calendar.

Making his professional debut at the Regent’s Park Open Air theatre in 1986, Bonneville is a fitting choice to join Legally Blonde star Smith, with the actor boasting numerous theatre credits over the course of his acclaimed career.

While arguably best known for his screen roles as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham and in a host of popular television programmes including Twenty Twelve and Rev, the Notting Hill star is also a seasoned stage performer, his early career seeing him work extensively at the National Theatre and another equally prestigious institution, the Royal Shakespeare Company, earning him an Ian Charleson Award nomination.

In more recent years, Bonneville appeared in Sam Mendes’ production of Habeas Corpus, the Kevin Spacey-directed Cloaca at the Old Vic theatre and was last on stage as part of last year’s star-studded gala performance of The Mousetrap.

The announcement comes as the excitement for the most eagerly awaited night in London theatre builds. On the night theatre fans will be able to listen live to the ceremony on BBC Radio 2, watch a special highlights programme on ITV following the ceremony or gather to watch a live relay on big screens at the Covent Garden piazza event, which returns for 2013 with live performances to be announced.