Everything we know about the Downton Abbey film so far

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Nicola Rachel Colyer

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.

Michael Edelstein, president at NBCUniversal International Studios confirmed that a film is indeed in the works and that production is likely to start in 2018.

Speaking in Singapore at a red-carpet event for Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, where producers and cast members gathered to share costumes, sets and never-before-seen footage, as The Telegraph reports, Edelstein said: "There's a movie in the works. It's been in the works for some time.

"We are working on getting the script right and then we've got to figure out how to get the [cast] together. Because as you know, people go on and do other things. But we're hopeful to make a movie sometime next year.”

Next year, people. NEXT YEAR.

The Sun reported earlier this year that Carnival Films, the production house behind the TV series, will be continuing their sponsored_longform with creator Julian Fellows for the film.

Nonetheless, it seems that the announcement came as a surprise to some cast members, with Sophie McShera, who played assistant cook Daisy Mason, saying: “Oh, well, you've got confirmation before us. We have no idea if that's happening.

“But we would all love to be part of the film if it was to happen, for sure.”

Laura Carmichael, who played Lady Edith Crawley, was also caught by surprise but confirmed that she was looking forward to the prospect of participating in the film, remarking: “Well, tell my agent, because we're still waiting to know. We're hoping that will happen soon.”

Creator Julian Fellowes confirmed in 2016 that he and “most” of the cast were “up for it”, and in January said he’d already written a script so he wouldn’t be “caught out” if the project was suddenly given the green light.

Michelle Dockery Laura Carmichael Downton Abbey
Lady Mary and Lady Edith will be gracing our screens once more

So. who else is on board?

Jim Carter, whom we all know as Carson, revealed on Good Morning Britain at the beginning of this year that the cast had been asked to “keep [themselves] available for dates in the future”, but there has been no official confirmation of who we can expect to see in the film.

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.”

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. 

Michael Fox, who plays footman Andy Parker, has since suggested that Smith has 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.

“The film without her would still be good with all the other actors, but it puts a stamp of quality with her in it.”

However in April this year, 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.”

If Smith does return, it might only be a fleeting appearance as it seems that she is keen for the film to commence with her funeral.

“"I could croak it,” she told the audience at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival in April. “It would just start with the body.”

The Radio Times reported that Hugh Bonneville is on board, on 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 has appeared next to the bottom of a Labrador, much to his dismay. “Someone up there hates me”, he once quipped.

Mrs Crawley is also likely to make an appearance, with actress Penelope Wilton remarking that “it would be silly not to say yes.”

Dame Maggie Smith Downton Abbey
It's not clear whether Dame Maggie Smith will be reprising her role as the Dowager Countess

And we’re sure to be seeing the return of some of our favourite characters from ‘downstairs’ too.

Actress Phyllis Logan, who played Mrs Hughes, 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.”

Jeremy Swift, who played Mr Spratt, said earlier this year that the cast had already seen Fellowes screenplay: “There is a film script which we’ve all been sent but it disappeared Mission Impossible-style from all our emails […] it’s supposed to be happening, filming, this year [2017] but it hasn’t been locked down yet.”

As for the plot?

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. As many of the cast are expected to return for the adaptation, it’s unlikely that we’ll be moving too far ahead in the upcoming movie and it’s expected that it will focus on the years leading into World War II.

However, we might be in for a surprise as executive producer Gareth Neame previously discussed the possibility of exploring the 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, 1950s, 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.”

Lady Edith looks set to be a focus of the film, with Neame discussing the feminist thread that ran through her storyline as she takes charge of her life, heading up a magazine and eventually marrying, making her more senior than the rest of the family.

“It’s really interesting to imagine what Edith’s future might be,” Neame told Variety. “Maybe we’ll see that if there’s a movie.”

We can but wait and see, but rest assured – when we know, you’ll know.

Images: ITV / Rex Features


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Nicola Rachel Colyer

Nicola Colyer is a freelance writer and ex-corporate girl. A francophile and relapsing sugar-free graduate, she'll often be found seeking out the best places for brunch or struggling to choose between a green juice and a G&T.

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