STATELY home Highclere Castle has been booked by film bosses to record the Downton Abbey movie.

But they have not yet been able to sign up all of the cast from the TV series for the £25million silver screen version in summer 2018.

Dame Maggie Smith has said that she does not want to return.

Show creator Julian Fellowes is delighted at the film confirmation.

He wants to stick to the script he penned over a year ago and he does not want to change the plot because actors are unavailable.

But the success has made a headache for executives.

Dame Maggie SmithGETTY

Series favourite Dame Maggie Smith is not expected to return for a film

Trying to get everyone in one place, it’s like herding cats

Julian Fellowes, Downton creator

Fellowes said: “Trying to get everyone in one place, it’s like herding cats.”Big names such as Elizabeth McGovern (Countess of Grantham), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley), Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates) and Hugh Bonneville (Earl of Grantham) have seen their careers soar thanks to the award-winning show.

The cast insist they want to return to the Abbey, which ended on ITV on Christmas Day 2015.

An insider said: “For months some of the cast have been dancing around a return, which made this year a no go.

“But now they are pushing ahead. They have a few people locked in and others verbally agreed, so they are going for it now. Rounding up the actors has been tough with so many seeing their careers explode on both sides of the pond, but they are determined to work it all out.”

Last month some of the cast admitted that there were issues with the movie schedule but added that it was “still a possibility”.Allen Leech (Tom Branson) said: “There’s a great willingness among all of us to do it.”

Fellowes is still holding out hope Dame Maggie (Dowager Countess of Grantham) will return.

She has complained of the fame that the series has brought her and she feels that a Downton movie would be “squeezing the story dry”.

Executive producer Gareth Neame insisted that the film should feature Dame Maggie.

Allen LeechGETTY

Allen Leech has said there is a ‘great willingness’ among cast to do a film

He said: “I think it would be a real loss without her and I’d hope very much that she’d want to be in the movie with everyone else.”Neame added that there have been strings of rumours about her leaving the show from the beginning, which were unfounded. He has said that even if the Downton Abbey film is a hit, there will be no return to television.

He added: “There is any number of ways the show could spin off, but it is not going to happen within this lifetime of the show and not by us.”

Highclere Castle, near Newbury, Berkshire, where the original series was filmed, will be closed to visitors from May 30 to July 7 to allow exterior and interior filming.

 

Written by : James Desborough

Taken from : https://www.express.co.uk/showbiz/tv-radio/893319/downton-abbey-film-highclere-castle-maggie-smith-julian-fellowes-michelle-dockery

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