Downton Abbey could be set for shock return as TV bosses try to lure back big names

By Katie Hind Consulting Editor Showbusiness

22:00 20 May 2023, updated 22:09 20 May 2023

Its clear plot and swiftly drawn characters proved so compelling that it spawned six seasons on TV and two movie spin-offs.

Now, The Mail on Sunday can reveal the hugely popular Downton Abbey, with the wealthy Crawley family at its heart, is making its television return.

The production company behind the Golden Globe-winning show – which covered a host of social changes and world events between 1912 and 1928 – is now casting and hoping to bring together all the big stars, including Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery and Elizabeth McGovern. Can attract names back. ,

And while still in early stages, sources say it’s expected to be ready to screen by the end of next year – although filming commitments by the main stars could push this back.

It is understood that the show, created and produced by Julian Fellowes, will be aired on ITV, his home since its launch in September 2010.

An insider said: ‘There is a plan that is in development and there is a lot of excitement about it.

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Downton Abbey: A New Era, the second big screen spin-off after 2019’s Downton Abbey, is positively bursting with all our favorite ingredients

‘Casting is happening, and it would be great if all the big stars could come back. People loved Downton. It became a British institution and has been fondly remembered ever since it left our screens.

‘There is huge excitement around this project. It was a Sunday night favorite and received huge viewing figures. Since it ended there has been little to compete with it.’

The show’s final episode—which served as a launch pad for the career of Ms. Dockery, Lily James, who played Lady Rose; and Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Lady Sybil Crawley, was broadcast on Christmas Day in 2015, with viewing figures of 7.4 million.

Fans saw Edith (Laura Carmichael) and Bertie (Harry Hadden-Patten) finally marry on New Year’s Eve 1925.

Meanwhile, Ms. James welcomes a one-off return with Matt Barber as Atticus for the finale.

Other notable moments included lady’s maid Anna Smith (Joanne Froggatt) going into labor during the wedding reception, her and valet Bates (Brendan Coyle) becoming the proud parents of a healthy son.

Such was the demand from fans that the series – the most nominated British show in Emmy history – was followed by two movies in 2019 and 2022.

The Dowager Countess of Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith) fires acid barbs through pursed lips, which is easier said than done
Downton has also enjoyed great success in the US, where an average of 26 million people watched each episode. Pictured: Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith

The first, set in 1927, depicts a royal visit to the stately home of the Crawley family in Yorkshire. As the royal staff descend on Downton, an assassin arrives and attempts to kill the monarch.

The second film, Downton Abbey: A New Era, saw the Crawley family embark on a grand journey to the south of France to uncover the ‘mysterious past’ behind the newly inherited villa of the indomitable Violet Crawley (played by Dame Maggie Smith). goes.

Dominic West also joined the cast as Guy Dexter.

Yesterday, Downton executive producer Gareth Neame, who is also executive chairman of Carnival Films, which makes the show, declined to comment when asked if he intended to bring it back.

ITV also did not wish to comment.

However, news of its return will be a boost for ITV, which last year launched its own streaming platform, ITVX, with the aim of competing with giants such as Netflix and Amazon.

Bosses will have seen the success of shows like Bridgerton and its popular spin-off, Queen Charlotte, and joining the Downton Abbey juggernaut would be one way to grow their audience.

ITV has all six series of the show on stage and sources at the network say they are ‘very well watched’, which means there is an appetite for more.

Downton has also enjoyed great success in the US, where an average of 26 million people watched each episode.

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