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The wait is just about over. The premiere of Downton Abbey: Season 3 in the U.S. happens this Sunday! And there will be a live Twitter event, too!

Downton Abbey: Hugh Bonneville and Jim Carter
Hugh Bonneville (left) as Lord Grantham and Jim Carter as Mr. Carson – Courtesy of © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE

The second season of Downton Abbey was the most-watched series in MASTERPIECE history. And if all the media coverage, social media activity, and water cooler chat during the past several months are any indication of the viewership to come for Season 3, then MASTERPIECE could have another record-breaker.

Downton Abbey
From left to right: Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Grantham, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham, Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley, Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley, Allen Leech as Tom Branson, Jim Carter as Mr. Carson, and Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes. Courtesy of © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE

So, what can we expect in Season 3? All of the regular cast members:

    The Crawleys: Hugh Bonneville (Robert, Lord Grantham), Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil Branson, née Crawley), Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith Crawley), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley), Allen Leech (Tom Branson), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora, Lady Grantham), Maggie Smith (Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham), Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley), and Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley)

The Staff: Jim Carter (Mr. Carson), Brendan Coyle (John Bates), Siobhan Finneran (Miss O’Brien), Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates, née Smith), Rob James-Collier (Thomas Barrow), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Sophie McShera (Daisy Mason), and Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore)

Recurring characters: Ethel (Amy Nuttall) and Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle)

New characters: Shirley MacLaine makes her long-awaited (stateside) debut as American Martha Levinson, the mother of Lady Cora. Others include new footmen, one of whom is the nephew of lady’s maid O’Brien.

And more devastatingly witty zingers from the Dowager Countess. No Downton episode is complete without several of them causing us to exclaim “Oh, snap!”

Downton Abbey: Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery
Dame Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary – Courtesy of © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE

What can we hope to see? A lot, including…

Mary and Matthew getting married. As she noted at the end of the (Season 2) Christmas party, they have more luggage than the porters at Kings Cross, but still. They’re engaged now. Plus, we didn’t get to see the (non-filmed) wedding of Sybil and Branson, so a beautiful ceremony for these on-off-on lovebirds would be lovely.

Lady Edith getting a beau of her own. She earned some good karma points helping the soldiers during their recovery at Downton. Whether they’re enough to balance out her backstabbing in Season 1 is anyone’s guess, but giving her a mutual-love interest could bring back some form of sibling rivalry amongst the Crawley sisters.

And Bates (Brendan Coyle) getting out of prison! Good grief, that man needs a break already. For the luvapete, let him and Anna be together already.

Downton Abbey: Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt
Brendan Coyle as Mr. Bates and Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates – Courtesy of © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE

By the way, from the looks of the new frock, Daisy may have gotten that promotion she wanted, from kitchen maid to assistant cook, after all!

Downton Abbey: Sophie McShera
Sophie McShera as Daisy Mason – Courtesy of © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE

Downton Abbey: Season 3 premieres on PBS MASTERPIECE this Sunday, 6 January, at 9PM Eastern. (Check your local listings.)

To join in the live @masterpiecepbs Downton Season 3 Twitter discussion on Sunday at 9PM Eastern/Pacific, featuring @PBS @Austenprose @televisionary @tomandlorenzo and @vulture — use hashtag #DowntonPBS.


Downton Abbey: Season 3 Premiere & Live Twitter Event on Sunday
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