Millions of viewers around the globe have missed the Crawley family, their servants, their lovely estate and the evocative theme song that marked the start of their day-to-day sagas on Downton Abbey since the series ended in 2015.
Fortunately, Lady Mary, as played by Michelle Dockery, and the rest of the clan are back – to welcome King George V and Queen Mary on a visit to their home, no less – in the feature film Downton Abbey.
"It's taken us by surprise," Michelle, 37, tells TV WEEK of having their TV show turned into a movie. "We all knew we were onto a good thing when we were filming it, but the response and the appetite of the fans is just incredible."
Of her journey as the eldest Crawley sister, now running the Downton estate in 1927, Michelle says, "At the start, Mary was this extremely stubborn young woman. She had a standoffishness that comes from being a first child, but not a son, unable to inherit. She's actually quite immature, but then through losing [sister] Sybil and losing a husband, she matures.
"I judged her in the beginning as this not very likeable posh cow [laughs], but she's become this complicated woman. There's much more colour to her palette than I imagined."
While she jokes that acting on the series has taught her which fork to use at formal dinners, Michelle says, "We've gone through a fascinating part of history, from the Edwardian period to the 1920s, and I feel like I've learnt a lot about the women of the time and how things changed for them."
One constant is the sibling rivalry between Mary and her sister Edith (Laura Carmichael).
"That has been one of the through lines of the show and the core relationship for Mary," Michelle reveals. "I don't think that they will ever fully see eye-to-eye. For Laura and I, that's more fun to play."
While Michelle can't give away any more details about the movie, she admits, "I feel very fortunate to be a part of it all. Hugh Bonneville [Robert Crawley] said something to me in the very beginning when we were at a party celebrating the show. He said, 'Savour it all, because this is very rare.'
"That has really stayed with me, because this doesn't happen for everyone. It's amazing."
Downton Abbey is in cinemas September 12.
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Now To LoveJan 17, 2020