Great news for Downton Abbey fans as filming for the movie sequel is set to begin this summer, according to reports.
Sources close to the period drama juggernaut say the cast will begin shooting as soon as coronavirus restrictions permit, and cinema bosses are planning a Christmas release.
The cast favourites are all said to be on board for when Highclere Castle in Berkshire – which doubles as the Downton estate in Yorkshire – becomes available for filming in the early summer ahead of its opening to the public for eight weeks from July.
A source told the Daily Mirror: ‘Everyone is hoping the June 21 date for the end of the pandemic holds. The crew dates are being fixed and the team are going to prep for a summer shoot.
‘The plan is to turn it around quickly and release the film in December.’
Actor Hugh Bonneville, 57, who plays Lord Grantham, previously said the cast were ‘desperate’ to get back on set and make a sequel to the 2019 flick, continuing the story from the popular television series.
The star said: ‘We are desperate to do it. It’s the sort of pleasurable release of a movie like the first one that audiences would enjoy after all of this mess we have been through.’
Fellow cast member Jim Carter, who portrays butler Carson, teased that the film’s script is ‘very funny’ and has ‘got all the same characters in’.
The initial Downton Abbey movie release was a hit with audiences and critics and Michelle Dockery – who plays Lady Mary – said that the reception ‘exceeded expectations’.
She added: ‘We were thrilled and, like with any show you’re a part of, you just never know what the appetite will be out there.
‘Of course, people were wanting it to happen and willing it to happen, so we did it.
‘But you never know how it’s going to turn out.
‘However, it exceeded our expectations. It was thrilling to see it happen.’