Downton Abbey series five, episode one: preview pictures and predictions

A look ahead to the first episode of series five, accompanied by Ellie Walker-Arnott's patented guessing game...

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It’s that time of year again. And we’re not talking about the start of the school term, the falling of autumnal leaves or that mad rush to buy shoes than don’t leak when it rains. It’s Downton Abbey season. 

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Remember the last time we saw the Crawleys? Laying on the sofa, full of turkey? (Us, obviously, not them.) Back at Christmas, the Crawleys and their American counterparts the Levinsons were all in the capital rubbing shoulders with royalty.

Rose was coming out into London society, getting herself all tangled up in a scandal surrounding the Prince of Wales.

Love was well and truly in the air, with Lady Mary spending the episode playing her two suitors off against each other while Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson held hands on the beach and Daisy was propositioned by an American valet.

Bates was incriminating himself further, dabbling in pickpocketing and forgery – while Mrs Hughes found proof that he was in fact in London the day that Green died. Proof that Lady Mary then destroyed.

And Lady Edith, who had returned to Britain after leaving her secret child in Switzerland, had a change of heart and decided to bring the baby back to Britain and pay the pig man to look after her. Yep. Seriously. 

But what’s going to happen next? It’s time to put our thinking caps on and make some spurious suggestions… 

Lady Edith’s found herself in a right pickle. And from her forlorn expression we can assume the pig man bringing up her baby plan isn’t quite working out. We hate to say we told you so, but it always seemed like a bit of a gamble. 

Looks like she’s putting her misery to good use though and penning her feelings of woe. She is a writer, remember – maybe the Crawleys will soon be receiving signed copies of Edith’s autobiographical poetry collections. Misfortune, by E Crawley. In fact, this would make a fine author image in the back cover. 

Lovely chap, Bates. But he does manage to look threatening in almost every single social situation. It’s probably something to do with the fact that he may or may not have killed both his ex-wife and his new wife’s attacker.

Looks like word of his criminal activities is spreading and Downton’s kind-hearted cook Mrs Patmore (maybe Cora’s suggested bringing in a Magimix) is interested in some of the less-than-legit services Bates now offers. You know, bespoke forgeries, personal pickpocketing, impersonation, murder. You name it, Bate’s has probably already done it for you. 

Not quite the picture of young love, is it? A secluded, fog-covered field where no one can hear Mary protest her indifference.

Sure, Gillingham looks like he’s smiling, but I bet that charming grin is wearing thin. It’s been months – nay, years – since he called off his last engagement to pursue Mary’s affections and she’s still playing hard to get. No man is that patient. And with a rifle casually in each hand, we’d be careful, Mary. You might have pushed this gentlechap too far with your eyelash fluttering and your evasive answers… 

Violet Crawley is not someone to be outdone. And with Lady Mary and Isobel on the cusp of new romances, the Dowager Countess is in the market for a fancy man of her own.

The Crawley matriarch is obviously a catch – she’s independent, witty, monied and a snappy dresser – but we can’t imagine she’d be the easiest first date. This chap clearly doesn’t have what it takes to date a Dowager – he can barely hold her attention. Better get back on MySingleAristocrat.com, eh Violet? 

Now Edith’s got a smile on her face. Presumably because the little cutie sat on her lap is her secret love child.

Perhaps she’s eshewing the upper classes, ditching her life at the Abbey and moving in with the pig man. We’re sure he’d welcome her with open arms once Robert had disowned her. Mr Drewe has been awfully (read: strangely and suspiciously) accommodating so far…  

Uh oh. Looks like one of Thomas’s schemes has gone a step too far. There he was trying to smoke some secrets out of Baxter and he literally set fire to the Abbey. Chances are he’ll be able to spin this though and all everyone will remember is him saving Edith’s life. The glossy-haired under Butler has a canny knack of weasling out of all his wrong-doing… 

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Downton Abbey returns to ITV on Sunday 21st September at 9:00pm