ITV has commissioned eight new episodes of its popular period drama Downton Abbey.
The new series will be set in 1920 and 1921, and the drama will cover a period of 18 months in the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them.
Writer and creator Julian Fellowes said: “I am extremely grateful to ITV for this. I have grown very fond of my Downton family and I certainly do not want to say goodbye to them quite yet.”
Viewing figures for the second series have increased by over 21% on the first series with a consolidated average of 11.5 million viewers watching the first six episodes of series two.
ITV’s Director of Drama Commissioning Laura Mackie said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be bringing Downton Abbey back for a third series, as we follow the inhabitants of Downton as they move into the roaring 20’s. It’s rare to find a drama that the audience connects with so strongly and we’re extremely proud to have commissioned a series that has become such a phenomenon.”
The cast returning will include amongst others Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Penelope Wilton, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Jessica Findlay Brown, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Rob James-Collier, Siobhan Finneran, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, Allen Leech and Amy Nuttall.
Filming of the new series will begin in the new year and will broadcast from September 2012.