Long before we said goodbye to the residents of Downton Abbey in the series six finale in 2015, rumours of the hit show making it to the big screen were in full swing.
For the last two years, the world has been waiting on tenterhooks for official confirmation that we will be reunited with the likes of Lord Grantham, Lady Mary and Carson in a silver screen adaptation of what has grown to be one of the most popular TV shows in the world.
Well, ladies and gents, the wait is finally over.
In 2017, Michael Edelstein, president at NBCUniversal International Studios confirmed that a film was indeed in the works and that production was starting the year after.
True to his word, two years on we have our first full-length trailer showing 1927 Downton – the film is set two years after the last series ended –thrown into a frenzy by an upcoming visit by an upcoming royal visit by King George V and Queen Mary.
So, who’s on board?
For those worrying about who exactly would be appearing from the original series: have no fear; a whole host of fan favourites are reunited.
The trailer reveals that most of the beloved cast are back, including Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, who play the Lord and Lady of Grantham, and Michelle Dockery as their eldest daughter, Lady Mary.
Jim Carter, whom we all know as Carson, revealed on Good Morning Britain at the beginning of 2017 that the cast had been asked to “keep [themselves] available for dates in the future” and true to his word, pops up early on in the trailer.
In 2016 Michelle Dockery confirmed that she would be up to the challenge of taking Downton to the big sceen, saying: “The thing I miss the most [about Downton Abbey] are my cast members. But we are still very close. I think there is potential for a film.”
“That is something I would wholeheartedly consider, so we will see. It may not be over yet.”
Thankfully, it isn’t.
Dame Maggie Smith has previously said that she wouldn’t take part in a movie adaptation of the hit drama, claiming that it wouldn’t make sense due to her character’s age.
But Michael Fox, who plays footman Andy Parker, suggested in 2016 that Smith indeed signed on to reprise her role as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, on the big screen. “[Smith] elevates it to something else, because she is such a legend and a national treasure,” Fox said. “It becomes a different show.”
However in April 2017, Smith was still claiming she wasn’t sure there was enough of a plot to warrant it: “They talk about there being a film but who knows […] I just think it’s squeezing it dry, do you know what I mean? I don’t know what it could possibly be. It’s too meandering.”
She clearly changed her mind as Lady Violet is front and centre in the newly-released trailer and acerbic as ever, dropping several cutting remarks throughout the two-minute clip.
For Hugh Bonneville’s part, his participation is reported to have come with the condition that his name on the credits does not appear alongside the now-famous dog’s bottom, as they did in the TV show, though he has not confirmed that canine news himself.
Throughout the show’s six-year run, Bonneville’s name appeared next to the bottom of a Labrador, much to his dismay. “Someone up there hates me”, he once quipped.
Mrs Crawley is also back, trading barbs with Lady Violet, with actress Penelope Wilton remarking in 2016 that: “it would be silly not to say yes.”
Alongside Carson, the trailer also shows see the return of some of our favourite characters from ‘downstairs’ too as they busy themselves getting ready for the royal visit.
Actress Phyllis Logan, who played Mrs Hughes, previously told Good Morning Britain that “the will is definitely there with everybody involved […] we’d love all to get back together again and have one last hurrah, we certainly would.”
There’s some new faces as well: screen veteran Imelda Staunton makes a splash – and ruffles the feathers of the Dowager Countess – as the visiting Lady Bagshaw. Meanwhile, there’s romance brewing between bereaved former-chauffeur Branson and Lady Bagshaw’s maid, Lucy, played by rising star Tuppence Middleton.
And what’s it about?
The sixth and final series of Downton Abbey was set in 1925, after Hitler had released Mein Kampf but before he had seized control of Germany.
Back in 2015, executive producer Gareth Neame teased the possibility of younger characters, such as Lady Mary’s son George, taking centre stage.
According to The Telegraph, Neame told Radio Times that he was “interested in the fact that George, Marigold and Sybbie could just about still be alive today.
“I am interested to know what happens when George is running the estate, in the… whenever it is, Fifties, Sixties or something.”
Neame also revealed plots for a hypothetical spin-off series that might feature in the film, ranging from Carson and Mrs Hughes running a B&B to “Branson and Henry running the car Henry business and building it up.”
However, that line of thought seems to have been abandoned – instead the film is set two years after the last series and shows the Downton residents preparing for a surprise visit from their monarch.
Little else has been revealed yet but rest assured, when we know, you’ll know.
Originally published 23 June 2017
Images: ITV / Rex Features/Getty