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Downtown Abbey: War, wedding and a funeral

The new series of Downton Abbey will feature a wedding, a funeral, a war and a SEX scene, TV Biz can reveal. The long-awaited second instalment of the period drama returns to our screens in September - but we've had a sneak preview.

After drawing in nearly 13 million viewers last year, the ITV hit promises to deliver again with a heady mix of romance, scandal, tragedy, laughs - and more questions of etiquette.

And there's more good news for fans as the cast and crew of the upstairs-downstairs saga have been primed for at least another series... if not FOUR.

Executive producer Gareth Neame said: "I think it can continue for series four, five and six! It could move up to the 1930s, as long as the audience wants it."

Series one ended as the First World War began - and the second outing sees Downton Abbey turned into a convalescent home for injured troops.

But as usual at Downton, nothing is going to be straightforward. Brendan Coyle, who plays lovelorn valet Mr Bates, revealed: "There are so many twists and turns - things happen in this series that you definitely won't see coming.

"We were shocked every time we picked up a new script.

"It is very bold, dramatic stuff."

Mr Bates's will-they-won't-they romance with head housemaid Anna (Joanne Froggatt) is set to continue.

But viewers will be left wondering whether they can ever have a happy ending, especially when his WIFE turns up.

Meanwhile there is hope for those other Downton lovebirds - heir apparent Matthew Crawley, played by Dan Stevens, and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery). Their romance stalled at the end of the last series when he rejected her advances. But actor Dan has hinted it may not be the end of the relationship.

He revealed: "There is a wedding - but whether it involves me and Lady Mary or not, you'll just have to wait and see.

"We're still filming so I don't even know myself how things will pan out."

Matthew is one of three Downton characters who go off to fight in the trenches - and their scenes were filmed in a field near Ipswich during the huge 23-week shoot.

Dan said: "It was such fun to film - the real stuff of dreams for a boy. It was very cold and very muddy and I was still finding bits of soil from the explosions in my hair and clothes, days later."

Back home Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) turns nurse and Lady Edith learns to drive.

That put actress Laura Carmichael behind the wheel of a £500,000 vintage motor. She said: "I think my heart rate is only just going back to normal!"

Downton's Dowager Countess Violet (Maggie Smith) and faithful servants Mr Carson (Jim Carter) and William Mason (Thomas Howes) return.

Left: Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley. Right: Dame Maggie/Professor Minerva McBadass as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham.

Left: Jim Carter as Mr. Carson. Right: Thomas Howes as William.

While among the new characters are posh Lavinia Swire (Zoe Boyle) - a love interest for Matthew - and newspaper magnate Sir Richard Carlisle (Iain Glen).  (SER JORAH!!!)

Iain Glen as Sir Richard Carlisle
Iain Glen as Sir Richard Carlisle

Below stairs there's housemaid Ethel, played by ex-Emmerdale actress Amy Nuttall. She revealed: "Ethel has an eye for the men and one in particular.

Left: Zoe Boyle as Lavinia Swire. Right: Amy Nuttall as Ethel.
Left: Zoe Boyle as Lavinia Swire. Right: Amy Nuttall as Ethel.

"She's silly and doesn't think before she acts or speaks, which gets her into trouble time and time again."

Downton Abbey, which also returns for a Christmas special, has been sold to 22 countries.

Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Robert Grantham, is still coming to terms with its success. He said: "I first realised how big it was when a ten-year-old boy started telling me how horrid the footman Thomas is.

Left: Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley. Right: Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham.

"I've had people grabbing me and asking, 'Why isn't there a second series yet?'

"So we've been filming it as fast as we can!"


Series 2 Behind the Scenes photos:

Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) is ready for her close up

Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham.

Left: Amy Nuttall plays new housemaid Ethel. Right: Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess of Grantham

Michelle Dockery and Jessica Brown-Findlay

Left: Michelle and Laura Carmichael (who plays her sister Lady Edith) fill in time with a crossword between takes

Right: In the new series, Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) is training to be a nurse. Jessica says, ‘We’re two years into the war and Sybil’s suffering the frustration of reading the headlines and not being able to do anything. The optimistic, naive Sybil of the first series has been dispelled a bit by the weight of the war. I’m enjoying the outfit — it’s less restrictive than the dresses I wore last year’

Above: A stylist makes sure that no hair is out of place on Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery)

Left: Hugh Bonneville returns as Robert Crawley, the sixth Earl of Grantham

Right: The three Crawley sisters

Above: It takes time to set up the special lighting and camera angles that make Downton such sumptuous viewing. Elizabeth McGovern says, ‘It’s painstaking and laborious but we all know it’s worth the wait’

Left: Elizabeth McGovern says, ‘I’m wearing vintage fabric but they reinforce it — the set is hard work for costumes’

Right: It may be wartime but Cora is still keeping up appearances

Above: Lady Edith (played by Laura Carmichael) sits with a badly injured soldier, whose identity is a closely guarded secret. ‘The grounds are beautiful,’ she says, ‘but we’re mindful that people live here. Lord and Lady Carnarvon [Highclere’s owners] must feel like the Granthams, having their home taken over by so many people!’

Above: Matthew Crawley (played by Dan Stevens) returns from the trenches for a recruitment drive, but viewers will also see him in action. Dan says, ‘There are amazing scenes of explosions, and running across no-man’s-land.’ Back at Downton, he adds, ‘They’re always fussing over my hair, saying “Make it wavier!”’

Above: A large supporting cast was needed to play injured soldiers; all actors are careful not to touch priceless antiques while waiting around. ‘There are eyes everywhere,’ says Dan Stevens. ‘The staff keep a respectful distance but watch to make sure we don’t etch our names on the dining table’

Above: Ethel (played by Amy Nuttall, second from left) is a new colleague for housemaid Anna (far left). ‘Ethel doesn’t think before she speaks,’ says Amy, ‘and she’s lazy, so she gets into bother. I’m almost as excited to be working with Joanne as I am Dame Maggie! I’m a huge fan of her work and she showed me the ropes, which mirrors what we do on-screen’

Above: Downton fans can’t wait for a revival of the simmering sexual tension between housemaid Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and valet John Bates (Brendan Coyle)

Above left: A quick flick through the script between takes

Above right: A make-up artist tops up Ethel’s ‘washed-out’ look

Above: Mr Carson the butler (played by Jim Carter)

August 2011 Vogue UK photo shoot:

All change: Downton Abbey stars (L-R) Jessica Brown-Findlay, Laura Carmichael and Michelle Dockery don designer couture in Kew Gardens for Vogue magazine

Scans: (click to enlarge)

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