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Updated! Everything we know so far about the Downton Abbey movie


TV's most illustrious stately pile, Downton Abbey, throws open its doors again next year as the aristocratic Grantham family step on to the big screen for the first time. 

In anticipation of the long-awaited (and that's understating it) Downton Abbey movie, here's everything we know so far...

It reunites the team behind the TV series

By that, we mean creator and writer Julian Fellowes (who won an Emmy for his work on the show, and who has written the film's screenplay), and pilot episode director Brian Percival (otherwise known as helmer of World War II drama The Book Thief). Producer Gareth Neame also returns from the TV series.

Then, of course, there is the cast, all of whom are expected to return (with one exception, which we'll get to shortly). Hugh Bonneville's benevolent Lord Grantham is set to again lead the ensemble, with Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley.

According to Variety, the film's producers have confirmed the presence of many of the key players, so prepare for a proper cinematic nostalgia fest.

Julian Fellowes has addressed the challenges of the adaptation

Describing the Downton movie as a "school reunion", show creator Fellowes is nevertheless candid about the potential pitfalls of adapting such a successful series for the big screen.

"In life you can't let yourself be daunted by the fact that it doesn't work out for some people," he told BBC News. "You just have to keep charging on and have a go and do your best... I don't think one should expect everything to be a triumph.

I've done my best, I know the cast are doing their best and I think it will be fun. But I won't count any chickens, thank you, until it is out, until we know how it is doing."

However, Lily James won't be back...

Currently seen lighting up the screen in Abba sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, James says we shouldn't expect an appearance from her character Lady Rose MacClare.

"My character Rose moved off to New York, so it would be far-fetched to bring her back," she tells Digital Spy. "I would have loved to have come back for a scene, but for a movie it can't be like a Christmas special and it needs to be a focused storyline. There was no space for Rose."

... But Maggie Smith will be

Colour us surprised, as veteran stage and screen performer Smith always seemed ambivalent about being associated with Downton. (In an interview with Graham Norton, she confessed, amusingly, to never having watched it.) However, just as the Dowager Countess's sharp tongue has the tendency to take us by surprise, so too has Smith thrown us a curveball by agreeing to appear. Well, it wouldn't be Downton without her, would it?

And we've had confirmation of Smith's presence, thanks to on-set Daily Mail photos that can be glimpsed here.

It's filming at the moment

After three years of wrangling and schedule negotiations (further complicated by the fact that the likes of Paddington's Hugh Bonneville have since become big stars), Downton Abbey is finally going ahead. The news was confirmed by a Twitter announcement earlier this summer.

No concrete plot details have been announced, but we might expect the story to pick up where the 2015 Christmas special left off. That episode garnered an impressive 11 million viewers and was a culmination of sorts, with Carson retiring, Violet and Cora reconciling, and Anna and Bates giving birth to their first child. Meanwhile, troubled footman Thomas stepped up to the role vacated by Carson, and Lady Edith got married.

Whether the movie will pick up in the same time period (the close of 1925) remains to be seen. Back in 2012, Fellowes speculated on a possible storyline in an interview with Vanity Fair: "I do actually have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship of Robert and Cora, when all those American heiresses were arriving in London. They had a slightly troubled courtship because she was in love with him before they married, and, as we know, he married her entirely for her money."

Stars Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery have been Instagramming some behind the scenes snaps, which feature cast members Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leech and others.

And Joanne Froggatt confirmed just a week ago that she's been in make-up tests with her fellow actors.

A release date has been set

Pencil it in, Downton fans: the movie arrives in the UK on 13th September 2019. 

Stay tuned to the blog for more details, including the reveal of the first trailer.

Why are you excited about the Downton Abbey movie? Let us know @Cineworld.