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Downton Abbey set to make 'surprise comeback' as filming begins – details

The show ended with its sixth season in 2015

Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery in Downton Abbey
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
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Downton Abbey is reportedly returning to screens with a brand new series, eight years after the final episode aired on ITV. 

The popular period drama drew to a close on Christmas Day in 2015 with its sixth season, which was followed by two film spin-offs in 2019 and 2022. 

According to the Daily Mail, show bosses hoped to bring back some of the main cast members, including Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern and Joanne Froggatt. However, it's not known if all of them have signed up for the new series. 

Laura Carmichael, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, in Downton Abbey© Liam Daniel / Focus Features
Downton Abbey is reportedly returning with a new series

A source told the publication that filming has been underway for a few weeks and has been kept very secret. The previous season were filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire.

The new episodes are expected to arrive on screens by the end of the year. It's thought they will be broadcast on ITV, where seasons one to seven were aired from 2010 to 2015. 

The news might not come as a big surprise to fans, considering creator Julian Fellowes' comments about the future of the show in December last year. The writer told that he wouldn't rule out the drama's return. "I have said goodbye to Downton so many times, and I have written the last scene about six or seven times," he said. "Now I've got out of the habit of making permanent statements about whether it's gone.

SIOBHAN FINNERAN as O'Brien, LESLEY NICOL as Mrs Patmore, BRENDAN COYLE as Bates, JOANNE FROGGATT as Anna Bates, ED SPELEERS as Jimmy Kent, MATT MILNE as Alfred Nugent, CARA THEOBOLD as Ivy Stuart, SOPHIE MCSHERA as Daisy Mason© Joss Barratt
Filming is reportedly underway

"It just gives me a lot of pleasure that so many people enjoyed it, so to feel that you created a show that cheers people up and they had a good time with it, I love that."

What's more, producer Gareth Naeme previously said he's "always got ideas circulating" whilst chatting with HELLO! at the premiere of the second film, Downton Abbey: A New Era.

WATCH: HELLO! chats to Downton stars Jim Carter and Raquel Cassidy

When asked about the possibility of a comeback, Gareth said that if the 2022 movie did well, conversations would be had about the future. 

Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton in Downton Abbey the film© Focus Features/Moviestore/Shutterstock
It's not known who will return for the new series

"Who knows what comes next? As of today, we're focusing on the movie opening really well this weekend… that's what we're focused on, if it does really well we'll talk about the future," he said, adding: "We've always got ideas circulating!"

Although the cast has yet to be confirmed, Laura Carmicheal – aka Lady Edith Crawley – previously said she wouldn't say no to reprising her role in the future. 

Harry Haddon-Paton, Laura Carmichael, Tuppence Middleton and Allen Leech walk into garden during film© Focus Features/Moviestore/Shutterstock
The new series comes eight years after the end of season 6

During an interview on This Morning in 2022, Laura explained that the decision is ultimately down to creator Julian. "We never know. It's not saying no. It's just down to Julian," she said, adding: "We really do get on so well. We are a big family, we've known each other for years, so to come back together is always so fun."

While a new series is underway, it would seem that a third film is off the cards. Mrs. Patmore actress Lesley Nicol gave a disappointing update during an appearance on ITV's Lorraine back in December last year. 

When asked by host Ranvir Singh if a third film is in the works, Lesley replied: "I'd love that. Things have to be green-lit in the film business and it hasn't been green-lit as far as I know."