"I always watch Manor of Speaking, so I just hit Ernie up. I said, 'Hey, let me come on the show,' " Lovett told CultureMap.
"That's not even how he did it," Manor of Speaking host Ernie Manouse said with a laugh. "He said, 'If it wouldn't be a problem." And I said, 'Be on the show.' And he said, 'Well, I wouldn't want to hurt it at all. If you really don't mind.' He was so kind about it and it was just so sweet. And he did it."
"I thought it was fun and I might get to see one of the episodes," Lovett explained. "My real motivation was if Ernie has me on the show, I'll get to see it sooner."
Lovett got his wish.
He joined a group of Houston-area fans for a sneak peek of the first episode of the final season before it airs Sunday at 8 pm on Houston Public Media TV 8. Afterwards, he remained as the special guest for a taping of this season's first episode of Manor of Speaking, which will be broadcast at 9:15 pm Sunday.
During the taping, Lovett told the audience that he has become Instagram friends with Kevin Doyle, who plays Mr. Molesley on the series. "We've swapped messages and he was kind enough to send me some pictures from his phone from the last couple of days of shooting. It felt really good to get an inside glimpse," Lovett said.
"I heard an inside story, too, that they were playing one of your songs on the set and they were dancing around," Manouse said.
"That would be too cool," Lovett said to laughter and applause.
In an interview with CultureMap, Lovett explained why he is a big fan of the series, which is in its sixth and final season.
"It's a show about us, isn't it? As Ernie was pointing out on the set, it's a period piece but thematically it has to do with our lives today. And the characters, no matter how grand they are, or no matter how seemingly small their part might be in the kitchen, they're all relevant. They're all flawed, so they remind us, the viewer, of ourselves."
Favorite character? "Oh gosh, I like em all," Lovett said. "Maggie Smith is just great as the Dowager Countess. I always look forward to hearing her one-liners."
We promised not to reveal any of the plot points about the first episode, but Lovett discussed it with the audience during the taping. "It's so full of foreshadowing. And what's curious to me is that every story line is set up to possibly have a very happy outcome for each of the characters, which is just too good to be true," he said.
Lovett is used to being in front of crowds, so what was it like to participate in the Manor of Speaking taping?
"Ernie said that watching the episode with an audience would be a different experience and it certainly was. People laughed in places that I wouldn't have thought they might and it highlighted some of the acting in a way that I hadn't thought about it as I watched the episode at home alone. So I really enjoyed that," Lovett said.
"But to meet the people who came here to Channel 8 to be part of the audience and to see them in their period dress is really something. It made me feel a little more normal in my love for the show."