We last saw Matthew Crawley on bended knee in the snow, proposing to that former ice maiden, the thoroughly thawed Lady Mary, so the new series opens with the wedding preparations in full swing. Of course a wedding means “wedding guests”, and the most spectacular arrival is that of Cora’s mother, the redoubtable Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) who’s come all the way from America. Swathed in furs, she makes a grand entrance at Downton and soon she becomes involved in verbal head-butting with the fearsome Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet (Maggie Smith). It’s like watching two stately galleons collide in a fog, as neither has any truck with the other’s social standing. It’s an opening episode that will thrill Downton’s legions of devotees because it’s full of what they love best — love, duty, intrigue, peril and great clothes. No one puts it better than the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) when he declares, “I’m so happy I feel my chest will explode.” Stand clear!
ABOUT THIS PROGRAMME
1/8. Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine joins the cast of the period drama as Cora’s mother Martha, who makes a grand entrance when she arrives at Downton for Matthew and Mary’s wedding. However, with the couple struggling to stay united as their big day looms, will Martha’s Atlantic crossing have been for nothing? Meanwhile, Mr Carson runs the rule over new footman Alfred, and Robert receives news that could leave him facing the greatest crisis of his life - and plunge the rest of the household into chaos. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Jim Carter and Michelle Dockery.
2/8. With the estate’s future hanging in the balance, Mary hopes to receive a bailout from grandmother Martha and, with Violet’s help, tries to make sure Downton puts on a bigger show than ever before with a grand party for friends and neighbours. Meanwhile, Mrs Hughes receives worrying news, and O’Brien’s efforts to boost Alfred’s progress meet with disapproval from Thomas. Costume drama, starring Michelle Dockery, Shirley MacLaine and Maggie Smith.
The Downton Abbey Phenomenon.
Includes clips from Series 3 Episode 1, and cast interviews. (X)
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You show two twenty second clips of Downton?! Fuck that.