A new image from the upcoming sequel, Downton Abbey: A New Era, shows Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess in a somewhat surreptitious looking conversation with Isobel Merton (Penelope Wilton). The sequel to the hit 2019 Downton Abbey film is due to arrive this March, much to the delight of devoted fans of the franchise. It will feature a return of the familiar and beloved cast, though this time around, directing duties will be taken up by Simon Curtis.
Originally kicking off in 2010 as an English period drama from writer Julian Fellowes, the TV series quickly gained a dedicated following – both within its home nation of the United Kingdom and beyond. Focusing on the lives of the Crawley family and the live-in staff who managed the day to day affairs of the Crawley’s estate, the series was known for its dense plotting, which juggled several stories at once and shed light on a bygone era of British life. The depiction of an aristocratic English family found mixed reactions at times from audiences within the UK, and criticisms of its stereotypical portrayal of Irish citizens at the time also led to a certain amount of controversy. Nonetheless, the series lasted for six seasons before calling it quits in 2015. Four years later, continued interest in the series was answered with a feature length film that found both commercial and critical success.
Despite less than three years having passed since the first Downton Abbey film arrived, fans of the franchise have been eager for the upcoming sequel’s arrival. The film was originally set to arrive in December of 2021, but of course, the Covid-19 pandemic brought about the sort of delays that have become standard over the past two years. Now set for a March 18 release, USA Today has provided a new image from Downton Abbey: A New Era that gives fans a sneak peak of a private conversation between Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Smith) and Isobel Grey, a.k.a. Lady Merton (Wilton). Check it out below:
Details on the plot of the new film are still rather slim, but what is known is that it will feature a wedding – the likes of which have previously been teased in a Downton 2 teaser trailer back in November. The sequel also aims to focus on a villa in the south of France that’s been inherited by Dowager Countess Crawley and what appears to be more of an exploration of the fussy aristocrat’s past. The first Downton film left audiences feeling as though the days of seeing the Countess were at an end, but that’s clearly not the case in the sequel, and perhaps this film will mark the final appearance of the character.
It’s hard to say if Downton Abbey: A New Era will be the final outing for the Crawley family on the big screen, but given the success of the franchise, it’s easy to see how more films could certainly arrive in the future. Judging by the film’s title, however, it would seem that fans could interpret the sequel as a set up for more films. Then again, it could simply be referring to how much things have changed since the last time audiences were invited into the Crawleys’ lives. One of these changes could mean the final appearance of Smith’s Dowager Countess – a move that would be sure to weigh heavy on the hearts of many fans.