What's next for Downton Abbey?

Downton Abbey series 4

It’s 1922 and we rejoin the Crawley family six months after the car crash that killed off the heart-throb husband of Lady Mary during the show’s Christmas day episode.

The trailer, released at the start of this month, shows Mary (played by Michelle Dockery), in conversation with her grandmother (Dame Maggie Smith) who urges her to “choose life”.

Time moved quite quickly when it came to marriage back then, and particularly for Mary it's important that she finds a husband that's eligible and can father her baby. Cue a succession of eligible suitors, including Lord Anthony Gillingham (Tom Cullen), Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden), and Evelyn Napier (Brendan Patricks).

Producers are hoping an injection of new characters will help viewers get over the sudden departure of Dan Stevens, who played Matthew, so in addition to the handsome and well-dressed young men we will also see Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as a singing house guest, a charismatic jazz singer called Jack Ross, played by Gary Carr, and the return of Shirley MacLaine as the outspoken Martha Levinson.

Back to the trailer, and we’re promised plenty of action in a series of quick cuts: parties, jazz, illicit kisses (with a new love interest for Tom Branson), tears, hugs, and Lady Edith’s bare shoulders (who will finally enjoy some very exciting storylines this series and a new roaring twenties wardrobe).

The Telegraph has given the first episode a five star review, saying that the new series “really does seem to have turned the clock back: this new series much more closely – and welcomely – resembles that glorious first season, which made itself instantly the most popular TV drama in Britain back in 2010.”

The new series of Downton Abbey starts on Sunday September 22nd on ITV. Watch the trailer in full below...