Downton Abbey is back on Sunday: here's what to expect

Five things to look forward to in series three, from a wedding and a baby to a potential gay romance

LAST UPDATED AT 15:44 ON Fri 14 Sep 2012

DOWNTON ABBEY returns to ITV for a third series on Sunday. While the war is over and Matthew Crawley has finally proposed to Lady Mary in the gently falling snow, there is still plenty of drama to be had. Viewers last saw the Downton estate celebrating Christmas in 1919. Here's what to expect from the new series, set in the 1920s:
 
A WEDDING TO RIVAL KATE AND WILLIAM’S
The 'will-they-won't-they' conundrum is over as Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley prepare to walk down the aisle. Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, has dropped hints that the wedding scenes could be as picturesque as Kate Middleton and Prince William's special day last year. "It's a truly stunning dress," she told STV. "I'm sure that people will maybe make some comparisons with the Royal wedding."

HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR OF SHIRLEY MACLAINE
A touch of Hollywood is coming to Downton with the casting of Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, the mother of Cora Crawley. Martha is apparently looking to shake things up. "Martha's basic role in these episodes is to plead with the Dowager Countess [played by Maggie Smith] to wrest herself, if possible, away from tradition," MacLaine told The Daily Telegraph. "She is extremely outspoken."

MORE POST-WAR GIRL POWER
The ladies of the house have experienced freedom during the war and are now thirsty for change. Actress Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith, told The Scotsman: "The young girls can't go back to how it was before. They've experienced a job and some independence, so going back to dinners and riding is not going to be enough." This means Lady Edith is not shying away from pursuing Sir Anthony. "She's more confident, and she doesn't bat an eyelid that people think she's batting out of her league. I think that's lovely to watch," says Carmichael.
 
THE DOWNTON ESTATE IN JEOPARDY
Lord Grantham, played by Hugh Bonneville, has gambled away nearly all of his wife's fortune on ill-advised investments, jeopardising the fate of the estate and leaving staff fearing for their jobs. "The possibility they might have to downsize becomes a reality very quickly," Bonneville has said. Meanwhile, the social order of the house is threatened by the return of a pregnant Lady Sybil and her husband – former chauffeur – Branson. Lady Sybil's family struggle to accept Branson, while the servants now have to serve someone they used to work alongside.
 
A GAY ROMANCE FOR THOMAS THE FOOTMAN?
There is talk of a "potential romance" for Thomas Barrow the gay footman, played by Rob James-Collier. "We really do see Thomas well and truly opened up, completely baring his soul and the most vulnerable I have ever seen him," James-Collier has revealed to BBC's Newsbeat. "There could potentially be some romance but whether it's unrequited, you'll have to wait and see." · 

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