The Downton Abbey movie is confirmed – and Maggie Smith’s on board

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Moya Crockett
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Months before the world bade goodbye to the Crawley family at the end of the final series of Downton Abbey, rumours had started swirling that the ITV drama would one day be turned into a movie.

And if you’ve been nursing a period drama-shaped hole in your life ever since the sixth season concluded last Christmas, get ready to rejoice: Downton Abbey: The Movie is all but confirmed.

Speaking to the Daily Mail this week, Downton creator Julian Fellowes said that filming for a big-screen adaptation was expected to start in 2017 – and that he was looking forward to having a bigger budget to lavish on Downton’s always-extravagant sets and costumes.

“I think it will be fun to get everyone together and move it to a larger scale, because you have got more money to spend,” he said.

“As far as I am concerned, I am completely up for it,” he continued, adding: “Most of the cast are up for it.”

On Sunday night, Dame Maggie Smith won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley, in Downton Abbey.

But despite the formidable Violet being a favourite character for many Downton fans, Smith has previously said that she wouldn’t take part in a movie adaptation of the hit drama. Appearing on the Graham Norton Show last year, the two-time Oscar winner said she didn’t think it would be realistic for the Dowager Countess to appear in Downton Abbey: The Movie – as the show itself had already spanned such a long timeline. The first series was set in 1912, with the final season concluding in 1925.

“By the time we finished, [Violet Grantham] must have been about 110,” Smith told Norton. “It couldn’t go and on, it just didn’t make sense.” When asked if she would appear in a cinema adaptation, 81-year-old Smith replied: “I can’t – what age would she be?”

However, actor Michael Fox (Downton footman Andy Parker) recently suggested that Smith had signed on to reprise her role as Violet on the big screen.

“[Smith] elevates it to something else, because she is such a legend and a national treasure,” Fox told the Mail. “It becomes a different show.”

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

Michelle Dockery, who played the cool and collected Lady Mary Crawley in the TV series, has said that she would “wholeheartedly consider” taking part in a film.

And Laura Carmichael, aka Lady Edith, told the Mail that she was excited at the prospect of catching up with her character. “It will be exciting to see how she is doing,” she said. 

Images: ITV, Rex Features