Doonton Abbey: TV's beloved upper class clan swap their English manor house for spectacular Scottish castle after filming Christmas Day special in the Highlands
01:06 GMT, 8 December 2012
It is Downton but not quite as we know it.
This year the Crawley family and a few of their best loved servants are leaving Downton Abbey behind and heading to Scotland for a break.
The ITV1 show is expected to be one of the most popular on Christmas Day with an estimated audience of 10 million.
Scottish getaway: The Crawley family and much loved servants are leaving Downton Abbey behind and heading to the Highlands for a break
North of the border: Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville, third from left) and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens, second from right) as the family visit their Scottish cousins at Duneagle Castle
Only the BBC’s seasonal edition of Call the Midwife, which airs immediately before it at 7.30pm on the same day, is expected to beat it in the ratings. In the two hour ITV1 special, Lord and Lady Grantham and their family visit their Scottish cousins at Duneagle Castle, accompanied by servants John Bates, his wife Anna, and O’Brien.
This is the home of Lady Rose, played by newcomer Lily James, who was sent home in the last episode of series three after her dalliance with a married man.
Family tension: Tom Branson (centre played by Allen Leech) and servant Jimmy Kent (right played by Ed Speleers) play tug of war as tensions build up between the two tribes
Rumoured romance: It is understood that there may also be some romance for downtrodden cook Mrs Patmore (Lesley Nicol) with another villager known as Tufton (John Henshaw)
Insiders said viewers would see
tensions build up between the two tribes and there is even the
suggestion of a new romance for Lady Edith.
in a bid to fully embrace life in the Highlands viewers will see the
men of the family deer-stalking, fly-fishing and out on shooting trips.
The special was filmed at Inveraray Castle on Loch Fyne in Argyll – the area is already hugely popular with tourists because of the idyllic landscape but is expected to enjoy a boom once the programme airs.
Executive producer Gareth Neame said: ‘While the cat’s away, the mice will play. The Granthams do not live at Downton Abbey twelve months of the year. They would go to London for the summer season and also go away on holidays like this.
Scottish break: New faces Shrimpie Flintshire (Peter Egan) and Susan Flintshire (Phoebe Nicholls) appear in what is the home of Lady Rose (Lily James), who was sent home in the last episode of series three after her dalliance with a married man
Happy arrival: Lord Grantham and Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) arrive at the Scottish castle in the ITV1 show expected to be one of the most popular on Christmas Day with an estimated audience of 10 million
Love for Edith There is a suggestion of a new romance for Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael)
‘And when that happens the domestic staff of Downton would remain. What will they get up to while the family is away’
The special will also show life back at Downton Abbey where butler Carson is desperately trying to keep the servants in check.
But the arrival of a country carnival in the village means many sneak off to enjoy the fun of the fair.
It is understood that there may also be some romance for downtrodden cook Mrs Patmore with another villager known as Tufton.
The last series of Downton Abbey had a mixed response from critics, but pulled in more than nine million viewers each episode.
Away from the Abbey: The Granthams, including Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), do not live at Downton Abbey twelve months of the year but go to London for the summer season and away on holidays
Tourist spot: Lady Cora and Lady Edith arrive at the castle which was filmed at Inveraray Castle on Loch Fyne in Argyll an area already hugely popular with tourists because of the idyllic landscape
Gone fishing: Matthew enjoys some fishing while away on the Christmas Day special which last year pulled in 8 million and was beaten by EastEnders on the day
Last year Downton Abbey’s Christmas special pulled in 8 million and was beaten by EastEnders on the day.
Traditionally it is the soaps that fight to win the highest ratings of Christmas day, but both EastEnders and Coronation Street have suffered dwindling audiences in the past year.
This year the real battle will be between Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey.
BBC executives moved its 75 minute seasonal special forward in a bid to avoid a clash with its ITV1 rival.
'Mice will play': Back at Downton Abbey, the arrival of a country carnival in the village means many sneak off to enjoy the fun of the fair including Thomas (Rob James-Collier)
Old fashioned fun: The men do a spot of shooting in Scotland including Lord Grantham, Matthew and Nield (Kenneth Bryans)
The final schedule sees Coronation Street and Call the Midwife go head to head at 7.30pm, and EastEnders will broadcast at 8.45pm – the same time as Downton Abbey.
The first series of Call the Midwife, which features Vanessa Redgrave, Miranda Hart, and Jenny Agutter, was a surprise success for the BBC when it aired in January.
The drama is based on the late Jennifer Worth’s gritty trilogy of memoirs about life and midwifery in London’s East End in the 1950s, and pulled in more than 8.5 million viewers a week.
Viewers’ will see a heart-wrenching and heart-warming festive special which tackles teen pregnancy, the horrors endured by those surviving the workhouse, and child mortality.
Scottish setting: Lord Grantham and Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) on the Christmas Day special
Best loved servants: Bates (Brendan Coyle) and his wife Anna accompany the Granthams on their time away