NEW YORK — Does it feel like forever since we lost the style, splendor and scandals of “Downton Abbey?”

Well dust off your jewels and put on the kettle, because the twists and turns at your favorite Yorkshire estate in early 20th-century Britain are back with a feature film, to the delight of fans and “Masterpiece,” among others involved in creating the show.

So, what to do about all those delicious details that may have faded after the six-season, upstairs-downstairs series ended in 2015 in the United Kingdom and the following year in the United States? We’ve got you covered with this guide to Downton’s past; but first a quick catch-up on the cast.

Key aristocrats and their original actors are back, including the Crawleys, of course. Hugh Bonneville is Robert Crawley, the 7th Earl of Grantham, and Elizabeth McGovern is Cora, his countess. They have three daughters, including their eldest, the opinionated Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery.

Maggie Smith reprises her role as the wry matriarch Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham. So does her frenemy, Isobel Crawley Grey, played by Penelope Wilton.

Below stairs, Joanne Froggatt remains Anna May Bates, lady’s maid to Mary, and Brendan Coyle returns as her selfless hubby, John Bates.

There are newcomers on the big screen, but we’ll get to that later.


The PBS series concludes on New Year’s Eve, heading into 1926. The rich are selling off their estates in the crash and the middle class is ascending.

In other Anna news: She gives birth in Mary’s bedroom, on New Year’s Eve during Edith Crawley’s wedding, no less, as the series winds down.

Sadly, Mr. Carson (the estate’s top dog as butler) has “the palsy,” which did in the careers of his dad and granddad. He agrees to emeritus status, letting the villainous Thomas Barrow take over.

Leading up to her wedding, Lady Edith (the former spinster and one of Mary’s sisters) is surprised at the Ritz by Bertie Pelham, who had previously broken her heart. The arrangements for them to meet were an act of rare kindness on the part of Mary for Edith after years of rocky rivalry between the two.

Pelham begs Edith’s forgiveness before the show concludes with their nuptials. First, Edith comes clean about her daughter, Marigold, who was born out of wedlock, and fends off the initial “damaged goods” qualms of Bertie’s judgy mother.

“Edith is going to be happy. Just think about that,” gushes her American mom, Cora.

“Hoorah,” rejoices Lord Grantham.


That’s how Robert once summed up the Bateses. Before their happily ever after, with a brand new son, Anna and John had virtually no luck at all.

Specifically, 1924 wasn’t kind to Anna and John.

Anna was attacked and raped by a visiting valet, Alex Green, but she tells only Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper. Green turns up dead after mysteriously being pushed or falling into traffic at Piccadilly Circus. Anna is charged after a witness reports seeing her near the body on the busy London road.

John is desperate to see Anna cleared. He falsely confesses to the murder as she awaits trial and then flees to Ireland. The two are eventually let off the hook and reunited.

Got that?


The film is set in 1927, hinged on a visit to Downton by King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James). It will be released Sept. 13 in the UK and Sept. 20 in the US.

There are some other new faces, including David Haig as the king’s butler and Max Brown in an undisclosed role.

Italie writes for the Associated Press.

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