The stars of the show have been giving tiny sneak peaks of what to expect in the next Downton Abbey series over the last few weeks as they work hard shooting new scenes.
But now fans have been treated to an actual glimpse of the upcoming third series after producers released two 20-second promo clips today.
In the first online video, the Grantham family is seen discussing the imminent arrival of Lady Cora's mother Martha Levinson, to be played by Shirley MacLaine, who is travelling over from America in the series.
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Her big entrance: Shirley MacLaine, seen face-to-face with Dame Maggie Smith for the first time in the new third series, is the second American to star in the show
And it was Lady Crawley, played by Maggie Smith, who seemed the most excited about her arrival, as she said: 'I'm so looking forward to seeing your mother again.'
The second clip gives viewers the first glimpse of Maggie Smith and Shirley Maclaine coming face to face on screen in the show for the first time.
In character, Smith tells Maclaine: 'You Americans never understand the importance of tradition," Smith tells her rival.
And she replies: 'Yes we do. We just don't give it power over us. Maybe you should think about letting go of its hand.'
First look: Dame Maggie Smith can be seen in a new teaser promo for the upcoming series of Downton Abbey, released online today
A glimpse of what's to come: The first of the two 20-second clips sees the Granthams chatting about the arrival of Lady Cora's mother Martha Levinson, to be played by Shirley MacLaine
Sparks are set to fly between Dame Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess Violet Grantham and Shirley McLaine’s Martha – Lady Grantham’s mother.
Dame Maggie’s acerbic putdowns alone make Downton Abbey worth watching.
But for series three it seems she will be fighting Miss MacClaine’s Martha Levinson for the best waspish one-liners.
The frosty on-screen relationship is already being dubbed the “battle of the matriarchs” as the pair become embroiled in a bitter power struggle.
Excitement brewing: The two clips have been released as producers gear up anticipation for the new series
Speaking at the launch at London’s Mayfair Hotel, show creator Julian Fellowes said earlier this month: ‘We were lucky enough to get hold of Shirley MacLaine so the whole thing went off like a firecracker.
‘You've got these two very different women. You see that for the Violet, things were better in the past and everything is falling to bits.
‘Martha is the opposite and thinks everything now is great, the future is terrific. They punch at equal weight. When they're both on screen you want to look at both of them.’
Executives admitted that it took Miss MacClaine, 78, a little time to adjust to the style and rhythm” of the language in Downton Abbey but she worked hard to perfect it.
Producer Brian Percival added: ‘When she first arrived in the limo and all the members of the cast were standing to welcome Martha, we had to remember that it's not Shirley MacLaine it's Martha Levinson.
Taster: The characters discuss the arrival of Shirley MacLaine's character Martha Levinson in the first snippet
‘It's so easy to fall into that trap because she's a living legend. She's incredibly warm-hearted and witty.’
Following the twists and turns of series two viewers could have been forgiven for expecting a fairytale ending for the third run.
In fact, it appears things become even more fraught for the Crawley family and their staff with money woes, heartache and fights for justice to come.
Lady Mary and Matthew, whose will-they-won't-they love affair kept audiences on tenterhooks for the first two series, appear to still be struggling to make their relationship work.
Setting up the series: The two legendary actresses swap dialogue in the clip as fans eagerly anticipate the third series
At the end of the Christmas special last year fans saw the couple finally get engaged.
But a mystery disagreement could scupper the promise of a Downton Abbey wedding as scenes reveal Lady Mary considers whether she is making the right decision.
Set in the early 1920s’ with the family attempting to return to normal after the horrors of the First World War, the new plot also shows them threatened with the loss of the entire Crawley fortune.
The Earl of Grantham, played by Hugh Bonneville, has made a poor investment choice which could have serious repercussions for the everyone at Downton Abbey.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2191160/Downton-Abbey-fans-glimpse-Shirley-MacLaine-action-series-promo-released.html#ixzz24DVWSF9R