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Bows for 'Dame' Shirley as 'Downton' takes an economic downturn

23 JULY 2012

The cast of ITV’s hit drama Downton Abbey were all smiles in LA as they promoted their upcoming third series and introduced their latest addition. Hollywood veteran Shirley McLaine joins the cast as Lady Grantham’s feisty mother Martha Levinson.

American actress Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Grantham, gave her new on-screen mother Shirley the royal treatment by bowing at her feet as the cast gathered for photographs.

 

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Fellow cast members Hugh Bonneville, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery and Joanne Froggatt were also joined by screenwriter Julian Fellowes who has said that the new series focuses on "the recovery from the war" with "some laughs, some tears."

Some details about the plot have already been revealed suggesting that all is not well financially for the Crawley family who are threatened with the loss of their fortune. The period of evident in the show mirrors that of the current global economic climate.

A scene shown for the first time in Beverly Hills at the weekend depicts the sixth Earl of Grantham, played by Hugh Bonneville, in distress claiming that the family wealth is gone. Cora, his wife, played by Elizabeth McGovern then seen asking “Are you telling me all the money is gone?” to which her husband replies “I’m afraid so.”

Creator Julian says “Cora is less afraid of the future that Robert is, she’s much less afraid of change and now you will start to see more and more of that. If anyone understands the world that is coming it is Cora.”

Another plot revelation concerns the love affair between Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley. The will-they-wont-they romance appeared to end happily at the end of 2011’s Christmas Special; however the clip also displayed Michelle Dockery’s character asking the Downton heir “how can you be so disappointing? Don’t you see what this means? It means that deep down you are not on our side.”

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In her series debut 78-year-old Shirley McLaine, known for her roles in The Trouble With Harry and Steel Magnolias, meets Violet, the Dowager Countess, played by Dame Maggie Smith in what insiders have dubbed a 'battle of the matriarchs'. They also reportedly clash over concerns for the family’s future.

Shirley confessed that she had only recently heard about it while at the hairdressers, adding "I saw it and oh man... I was just as addicted as everybody else."

The hugely successful show which recently gained 16 Emmy nominations is set to return in September.

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