Downton Abbey series three – what next?

From wedding dresses to chauffeur's babies, what does the new series of the ITV period drama have in store?

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The Matriarchs

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Has the Countess of Grantham met her match? Watch Dame Maggie Smith recoil like a rattlesnake as Hollywood royalty Shirley MacLaine makes her much-anticipated Downton debut. MacLaine plays Lady Cora’s brash American mother who’s also a virtuoso of the killer putdown. “She is like a homing pigeon; she finds our underbelly every time,” hisses the Countess, seething. 


The Returning Daughter

Lady Sybil returns from Ireland with a bun in the oven and ex-chauffeur Tom in tow. Can lord Grantham swallow hobnobbing with a former servant who, horror of horrors, refuses to change for dinner? 


The Jailbird

Poor Mr Bates is still languishing behind bars after being convicted of murdering his ex-wife. But his devoted wife, housemaid Anna, hasn’t given up hope. 


And of course – the wedding

Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley are finally to tie the knot after he went down on bended knee in the snow in the Christmas special (prompting festive cheers in living rooms across the land).

It’s the most eagerly anticipated nuptials since the royal wedding. Certainly, the producers think so. Security on set had to be stepped up to prevent paparazzi glimpsing Lady Mary’s wedding dress, which is as closely guarded a secret as the Duchess of Cambridge’s and expected to inspire copycat dresses.

But will they actually make it down the aisle? The course of true love never did run smooth, especially when Julian Fellowes is pulling the strings…


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Series three of Downton Abbey starts tonight at 9:00pm on ITV1.