Not long now! Downton Abbey's third series is teased with new promos… as Julian Fellowes says Hollywood actors would have struggled working on the period drama
00:45 GMT, 21 August 2012
The stars of the show have been giving tiny sneak peaks of what to expect in the next Downton Abbey series over the last few weeks as they work hard shooting new scenes.
But now fans have been treated to an actual glimpse of the upcoming third series after producers released two 20-second promo clips today.
In the first online video, the Grantham family is seen discussing the imminent arrival of Lady Cora's mother Martha Levinson, to be played by Shirley MacLaine, who is travelling over from America in the series.
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First look: Dame Maggie Smith can be seen in a new teaser promo for the upcoming series of Downton Abbey, released online today
And it was Lady Crawley, played by Maggie Smith, who seemed the most excited about her arrival, as she said: 'I'm so looking forward to seeing your mother again.'
The second clip gives viewers the first glimpse of Maggie Smith and Shirley Maclaine coming face to face on screen in the show for the first time.
In character, Smith tells Maclaine: 'You Americans never understand the importance of tradition,” Smith tells her rival.
And she replies: 'Yes we do. We just don't give it power over us. Maybe you should think about letting go of its hand.'
Her big entrance: Shirley MacLaine is seen face-to-face with Dame Maggie Smith for the first time in the second clip that was released today
A glimpse of what's to come: The first of the two 20-second clips sees the Granthams chatting about the arrival of Lady Cora's mother Martha Levinson, to be played by Shirley MacLaine
While the mention of Americans is made in the new clips, creator Julian Fellowes has confessed how few U.S. actors could work on Downton Abbey, despite its huge American fan base.
The acclaimed screenwriter believes that Hollywood stars struggle with “period drama” and are not as believable in such roles.
‘Our actors have an understanding of period — for Europeans the past is very much in them as well as the present. Americans find it harder,’ he told delegates at the Global Creative Business Summit.
‘The US has the best film actors in the world but they are a very contemporary race. They look forward all the time, [but] there is something about period drama where they tend to go to a strange place called ‘period’ where people wear funny clothes.
‘Whereas our actors don’t do that. I think they make it very real.’
Creator: Meanwhile, Julian Fellowes has confessed he doesn't think many Hollywood stars would fit in with the period drama
The show is hugely popular in the U.S. and has been nominated for 16 Emmy Awards – one of the most prestigious accolades in American television.
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Excitement brewing: The two clips have been released as producers gear up anticipation for the new series
Producer Brian Percival added: ‘When she first arrived in the limo and all the members of the cast were standing to welcome Martha, we had to remember that it's not Shirley MacLaine it's Martha Levinson.
‘It's so easy to fall into that trap because she's a living legend. She's incredibly warm-hearted and witty.’
Following the twists and turns of series two viewers could have been forgiven for expecting a fairytale ending for the third run.
In fact, it appears things become even more fraught for the Crawley family and their staff with money woes, heartache and fights for justice to come.
Lady Mary and Matthew, whose will-they-won't-they love affair kept audiences on tenterhooks for the first two series, appear to still be struggling to make their relationship work.
Taster: The characters discuss the arrival of Shirley MacLaine's character Martha Levinson in the first snippet
At the end of the Christmas special last year fans saw the couple finally get engaged.
But a mystery disagreement could scupper the promise of a Downton Abbey wedding as scenes reveal Lady Mary considers whether she is making the right decision.
Set in the early 1920s’ with the family attempting to return to normal after the horrors of the First World War, the new plot also shows them threatened with the loss of the entire Crawley fortune.
The Earl of Grantham, played by Hugh Bonneville, has made a poor investment choice which could have serious repercussions for the everyone at Downton Abbey.
Setting up the series: The two legendary actresses swap dialogue in the clip as fans eagerly anticipate the third series
Fellowes explained viewers would see the impact of the Irish war for independence on Downton.
He said: 'In the third series you see the impact on this family of the Irish troubles. At the time [that conflict] was much more the headline than the suffragettes or the other things.'
Fellowes added the forthcoming season will focus on 'the recovery from the war,' and will be an emotional ride for viewers, with 'some laughs and some tears.'
New additions to the show include serving girl Edna played by MyAnna Buring , who starred in the Twilight films, and War Horse actor Matt Milne who plays footman Alfred.
Former chauffeur Tom Branson reappears but he is now married to Lady Sybil, which causes confusion among the staff on how to address him as he used to be one of them.
The on-going love-affair between head valet John Bates and head housemaid Anna Smith, played by Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt respectively, is also addressed.
He was imprisoned – narrowly escaping the gallows – at the end of the last series but Anna and the Crawley family are desperate to clear his name.