Fans of the beloved period drama Downton Abbey have only a short wait before they return to the titular country estate for a catch-up with the Crawleys and company. Taking place about 18 months after the events of the series finale, the Downton Abbey movie entails a highly anticipated royal visit, but before watching the family and their servants prepare for this, viewers can watch the Return to Downton Abbey TV special for their own private tour of the home they know so well.
Arriving in select American theaters on Sept. 20, the Downton Abbey movie continues the story of the popular PBS drama with the same name, which ran in the United States from 2011 to 2016. Taking place between 1912 and 1926, the series followed the wealthy Crawley family and their servants as World War I and England's post-war recovery gradually shifted their traditional, aristocratic world. Despite deaths, scandal, and trauma haunting characters throughout the years, Downton Abbey ended on a high note, providing happy endings for the often long-suffering family members and staff.
In the series finale, the residents of Downton rang in the year 1926 as faithful servants Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates (Brendan Coyle) welcomed a son and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) finally entered a happy marriage. Her sister Mary (Michelle Dockery) left widowhood behind as she married race car driver Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode), while the retirement of longtime butler Carson (Jim Carter) marked a new era for the house.
Viewers of the film will soon find these familiar faces alongside new characters, but before visiting Downton once more, fans can refresh their memories with NBC's Sept. 19 special Return to Downton Abbey: A Grand Event.
Hosted by Derek Hough, the one-hour special will offer insight into the movie and include interviews with the cast. The special was filmed in England's Highclere Castle, which doubled as the filming location of Downton Abbey in both the series and the upcoming film. While interested fans can purchase tickets to tour Highclere, something feels right about getting to step into Downton from the comfort of your own couch again before experiencing it from a movie theater.
NBC hasn't confirmed which cast members are participating in the special, but you likely have a great chance of seeing your favorites onscreen. While the jury's still out about deceased characters possibly appearing in film flashbacks, most of the regular Downton Abbey cast reunited for the film, which focuses on King George V and Queen Mary visiting the estate in 1927
The Downton Abbey series was no stranger to tragedy, but the trailer focuses on happier times, hinting at romance for chauffeur-turned-brother-in-law Tom Branson (Allen Leech), last-minute help from the loyal Carson, and plenty of zingers from Crawley matriarch Violet (Maggie Smith). In the sixth and final season, the financial strain of running Downton in a modernizing world was explored, and this theme seemingly appears again in the film. But as seen in the original series, the folks of Downton Abbey are connected to each other through much more than just a shared address.
Here's hoping Return to Downton Abbey is the perfect appetizer to the teatime treat that is the Downton Abbey film.
Return to Downton Abbey: A Grand Event airs on Thursday, Sept. 19, on NBC. Downton Abbey is in theaters on Friday, Sept. 20.