Downton Abbey: What do we know about the Christmas special?

The summer-set festive episode looks set to focus on Lady Rose's coming out ball

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Downton Abbey: What do we know about the Christmas special?
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Now the Downton Abbey series four finale is over and done with, thoughts have quickly turned to the Christmas special.

And a conversation between Robert and the Dowager Countess in tonight's extra-long episode has given away some clues about what we can expect from this year's festive antics...

Downton Abbey, Robert Crawley

Of the Crawleys' American relations Martha and Harold Levinson, the Dowager Countess said: “Let us hope they both leave us in peace.”

“A slim hope, I’m afraid," replied Robert, newly returned froim the States. "Martha wants to bring him over next summer for Rose’s coming out ball.”

The Dowager Countess doesn't appear too happy about the news. Just look at that face. 

Downton Abbey, Dowager Countess, Christmas episode

Last year's episode, which saw the birth of baby George and the death of Matthew Crawley, was set during the summer. And – because we know the Christmas special sees the return of Martha Levinson (played by Shirley MacLaine) and the arrival of Cora's playboy brother (played by Paul Giamatti) – it looks as though this year's will be too. (So you can put all thoughts of another snowy proposal out of your minds...)

And rather than a holiday away from Downton like last year, this year's episode seems likely to focus on Lady Rose's coming out ball. Which sounds as though it has plently of potential for shocks, scandal and sensationally sequinned dresses... 

Downton Abbey will be back for a festive special over Christmas 2013