Downton Abbey movie: Dame Maggie Smith seen on set for FIRST time

Downton Abbey movie: Dame Maggie Smith and co-star Penelope Wilton lead the original cast as stars are seen on set for the FIRST time… filming church scenes in very British Bampton

  • It has been announced that the movie is pegged for European release on Friday 13 September 2019 and US release on Friday 20 September 2019

It was revealed last week that the crew of the highly-anticipated movie adaptation of Downton Abbey were back at Highclere Castle in Berkshire, setting up for filming.

And on Thursday, the cast were spotted on location for the first time – with series star Dame Maggie Smith leading the actors shooting scenes at a church in Bampton, England.

Revisiting another original locale from the long-running ITV series of the same name, a large sign on the wall read ‘Downton Cottage Hospital’ – of which Dame Maggie’s character Lady Violet Crawley was chairwoman on the show.

Back in the saddle: Dame Maggie Smith and the cast of Downton Abbey have officially begun shooting scenes for the forthcoming movie adaptation of the much-loved period TV series

The veteran actress, 83, was seen exiting the cottage in her period garb, back in the saddle as Dowager Countess of Grantham.

Looking typically-regal, Dame Maggie stepped outside in a dove grey coat and matching hat, over a cream top, with a pearl necklace and a signature brooch adorning her neck.


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She was swiftly followed outside by returning co-star Penelope Wilton, who stood out in a burgundy hat and coat, with a plain top underneath.

Penelope stars as Isobel Crawley – whose scenes opposite Dame Maggie are considered some of the best of the series.

Here come the girls: She was swiftly followed outside by returning co-star Penelope Wilton, who stood out in a burgundy hat and coat, with a plain top underneath


Back for more: Penelope stars as Isobel Crawley – whose scenes opposite Dame Maggie are considered some of the best of the series

There she is: The duo were seen heading to the church, presumably shooting scenes for a Sunday service – or even a wedding

Heading to the set: Maggie stepped out of the cottage, and sauntered over to the neighbouring church

Back to the past: The first images of the set were unveiled on Wednesday, as the cast and crew returned to the world famous Highclere Castle


Typically-regal: Dame Maggie stepped outside in a dove grey coat and matching hat, over a cream top, with a pearl necklace and a signature brooch adorning her neck

The duo were seen heading to the church, potentially shooting scenes for a Sunday service – or even a wedding.

The first images of the set were unveiled on Wednesday, as the cast and crew returned to the world famous Highclere Castle.

Decked out with trailers and trucks for the actors, as well as a stable courtyard and tennis court ready for use, filming seems to be well and truly underway.

The Jacobethan country house has been the home of the show since its inception in 2010, and the building looked resplendent against the luscious backdrop.

Chairwoman: Dame Maggie plays one of the patrons of the Downton Cottage Hospital

Setting the scene: Revisiting another original locale from the long-running ITV series of the same name, a large sign on the wall read ‘Downton Cottage Hospital’ – of which Dame Maggie’s character Lady Violet Crawley was chairwoman on the show

On location: Other cast members were also seen on set at the church

Studio lights had been placed outside of the entrance, and were on, suggesting that exterior scenes had already been filmed on set.

Meanwhile, a large catering marquee has also been provided for the cast and crew to use throughout the day during their busy shooting schedule.

It has been announced that the movie is pegged for European release on Friday 13 September 2019 and US release on Friday 20 September 2019.

Filming began earlier this month, and Michelle took to her Instagram to share a snapshot from behind the scenes of the movie. 

The actress, 36, is reprising her role as Lady Mary Crawley, and the film will continue where the hugely-popular ITV show left off when it wrapped in December 2015.

She was clearly excited to be back, as, alongside the image of a clapperboard on set, Michelle wrote: ‘And… we’re off’.

Behind the scenes! Filming began earlier this month, and Michelle Dockery took to Instagram to share a snapshot revealing a first look from the set of the period drama

The plot for the new film is being kept under wraps, but it has been confirmed that Michelle will be joined by original co-stars Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, and Laura Carmichael.

Matthew Goode, who plays Lady Mary’s husband Henry Talbot, has also revealed that he will have a role in the film, albeit a short one as he said he’s just ‘popping in’ due to conflicting work commitments.

Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, and Stephen Campbell Moore are among the new additions to the cast.

Michelle was not the only cast member to express their joy at being back, as Joanne Froggatt also shared a picture of her trailer, which had her character’s name on it. 

Good to be back: The actress, 36, is reprising her role as Lady Mary Crawley, and the film will continue where the hugely-popular ITV show left off when it wrapped in December 2015

Excited: Michelle was not the only cast member to express their joy at being back, as Joanne Froggatt also took a picture of her trailer, which had her character’s name on it

Having played maid Anna Bates in all six seasons of the period drama, it’s no wonder that she is back for another chapter. 

Allen Leech and Hugh appeared to be spending some quality time together, as the latter revealed they ‘skipped the first day of filming for Downton Abbey’ to go to see a play in Bath.

Allen, who reprises his role as Tom Branson in the film, wrote: ‘Quick catch up after 9 holes of golf……. after rehearsals, rehearsals and scene study!’

The Downton Abbey movie was confirmed in July after months of speculation from eager fans. 

Outing: Allen Leech and Hugh Bonneville spent some quality time together, as the latter revealed they ‘skipped the first day of filming for Downton Abbey’ to go see a play in Bath

Taking a breather: Allen, who reprises his role as Tom Branson in the film, wrote: ‘Quick catch up after 9 holes of golf……. after rehearsals, rehearsals and scene study!’

Enjoying their day: Hugh and Allen could be seen at dinner with pals in Bath, including actor Ralf Little (second left) and Downton co-star Elizabeth McGovern (centre)

Joanne Froggatt wrote on her Twitter page: ‘Delighted to announce we’re getting the band back together! #DowntonMovie #DowntonAbbey.’ 

Downton Abbey’s Twitter also posted: ‘Welcome back to Downton! We’re thrilled to announce that #DowntonAbbey is coming to the big screen. Film production begins this summer.’

Michelle also wrote on Instagram: ‘The secret’s out… Thrilled to announce that Downton Abbey is coming to the big screen.’  

Downton Abbey followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th Century in an Edwardian English country home.

According to Vanity Fair, the movie script has been written by show creator Julian Fellowes Focus and Universal Pictures International are distributing.

Reunion: While he’s not likely to make a surprise return, in August Michelle and Allen had a mini-reunion with their former cast mate Dan Stevens in Los Angeles

Brian Percival, who has directed several episodes of Downton, including the pilot, will helm the film, but there are no plot details known as of yet.   

The film’s producer Gareth Neame said in a statement: ‘When the television series drew to a close it was our dream to bring the millions of global fans a movie and now, after getting many stars aligned, we are shortly to go into production.

‘Julian’s script charms, thrills and entertains and in Brian Percival’s hands we aim to deliver everything that one would hope for as Downton comes to the big screen’.

The final episode of Downton aired on December 25, 2015 on ITV.

The show is the most nominated non-U.S. television show in the history of the Emmys, with 15 under their belt.

They earned a trio of Golden Globe Awards and a Special BAFTA award.

Joanne had previously said: ‘Selfishly, it would be great to get together for ten weeks and have a little reunion,’ Froggatt said. ‘I think we’d all like to do it.’ 

Popular: Downton Abbey followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th Century in an Edwardian English country home 

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