Ready for your Abbey Christmas, m”lud Behind the scenes on the Downton set days before festive special
The finishing touches are applied with painstaking precision. After all, these scenes are set to be among the most watched of the festive season.
Pictures released today give a fascinating insight into the Downton Abbey Christmas Day special.
They show stars Brendan Coyle, Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery looking stoic as their make-up is touched up. And the cameras are turned on the production crew as they train their lenses on Iain Glen, in character as Sir Richard Carlisle.
Taking the stand: Hugh Bonneville has make-up applied before his court scene defending Mr Bates
The two-hour special will follow the inhabitants of Downton from Christmas Eve 1919 to early January 1920. Viewers will see the trial of valet Mr Bates, played by Coyle, for the murder of his estranged wife.
Fans are also waiting to see if Lady Mary, played by Miss Dockery, can rid herself of her fianc Sir Richard.
ITV hopes the festive episode of its drama will top the 10.5million viewers it peaked at for its second series, despite being up against EastEnders and a special edition of Absolutely Fabulous on BBC1.
Hailed by its stars as the “best yet” the show will tie up many of the storylines from the hugely popular second series, in which idyllic country life was blown apart by the harsh realities of World War I.
Hi-tech meets old world: Iain Glen, who plays Sir Richard Carlisle, mingles with the camera crew
Painted lady: Michelle Dockery is prepared for a scene as Lady Mary
In the dock: A make-up artist works on Brendan Coyle (Mr Bates)
Behind the scenes photographs show the pair looking stoic – still clearly in character – having their make-up touched up.
In other scenes, the show”s creator Sir Julian Fellowes is seen chatting with the actor Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley.
Dame Maggie Smith returns as Dowager Countess of Grantham with more withering put downs than ever.
Half-cocked: Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley stands before the cameras as the film rolls
Writer Julian Fellowes with cast members Rob James Collier and Dan Stevens in evening wear
Take four: Lady Mary is ready to act in a scene for the Christmas special
If anything, she”s further honed her technique of twitching her head from side to side like some affronted bird of paradise every time she encounters a whiff of vulgar behaviour. Her put-downs are even better and she delivers a corker at the end
The Christmas special is up against EastEnders and a special edition of Absolutely Fabulous on BBC1.
Fellowes recently admitted he was baffled by the runaway success of the programme.
Maggie Smith as Violet in the two-hour special. ITV hopes it will pull in 10.5 million viewers
Court room drama: Phyllis Logan as Mrs Hughes takes to the witness stand in a scene from the trial of Mr Bates
He said: “If I had a clear understanding of why it had done so well I would continue to write shows that attracted record viewers for the rest of my life.
“I don”t fully understand why it did so well. I think we did one or two things right but I think the main reason it was so popular was we are allowed to give completely equal weight to all of our characters and we don”t set them off in a group, so we don”t make all the toffs horrible or all the servants funny.”
The first series, which was set in 1912, is already a worldwide success and has been shown in more than 100 countries.
The programme has been nominated for four prestigious Golden Globe Awards in the U.S., while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are also said to be fans of the show.
A third series is being planned, which is expected to be set in the early 1920s, but Fellowes has yet to write it.
The Downton Abbey cast prepare for a festive meal surrounded by the crew
Tale of the tape: Laura Carmichael, playing Lady Edith Crawley, is captured in front of the cameras
The dance begins in the long-awaited Christmas Day episode which will be the climax of the series
In full swing: The cast and crew seen from above on the dancefloor