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Downton return 'sure' for Shirley MacLaine

The creator of Downton Abbey Julian Fellowes is confident Shirley MacLaine will return to the show in the future. The Hollywood star played the Countess of Grantham's mother, Martha Levinson. Fellowes said: "She will come back, I'm sure."

Highclere Castle in Newbury where the television show Downton Abbey is filmed Credit: Press Assocation

Viewers will also see new mother Lady Mary Crawley as a widow after the shock death of her husband Matthew during the Christmas special:

"I was very, very sorry Dan left. I thought he did a terrific job for us, I think he's a terrific actor. But actually, nothing is harder to dramatise than happiness. When two people are happy, that's it.

"That's why in the old movies, they don't kiss and marry in the middle, they kiss and marry at the end, because in a way that's it.

"So now we've got Mary widowed, trying to control the estate, feuding with various other people about what the right way forward is, looking for a new life, dare one say it. All of that is really more interesting than two people sitting by the fire having a cup of tea."