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Writer Julian Fellowes won't rule out Downton Abbey spin-off

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has tried to scotch rumours that he's writing one of the ITV programme's most popular characters into his new series for American television.

There have been reports that Dame Maggie Smith's character, the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley, will make an appearance in his new project, The Gilded Age, as her younger self in 1880s New York.

Lord Fellowes told ITV News that the story has been fabricated by the media; but he didn't rule it out and even began to fan the flames of the rumour himself by saying "you never know, life's full of surprises!".

Speaking at the launch of the Bath and West Show, the writer admitted he'll be as sad as the viewers when Downton comes to an end after the upcoming series.

Everything in life has a cycle and where better to say that than at the Bath and West Show?

The fact is I think Downton is at its peak and when a show is at its peak it's time to go. What you don't want is the downward slide as everyone gets tired of it, or the cast get tired of it, or whatever and we've decided not to do that.

– Julian Fellowes


BAFTA nominations for 'The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies'

Christopher Jefferies was played by Jason Watkins

ITV drama The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies has been nominated for a TV BAFTA in the mini-series category.

It tells the story of the Bristol landlord who was arrested on suspicion of murdering his tenant Joanna Yeates. He was released and another man, Vincent Tabak, was jailed for her murder. But in the intervening months Mr Jefferies suffered character assassination by many tabloids. Later he would receive apologies and payouts, and also gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

The two-part drama about his ordeal aired in December, and starred Jason Watkins. He has also been nominated for his performance in the leading actor category.

Famous stars descend on Bristol for new film

If you've been in Bristol and noticed an increased amount of suspicious activity around banks and security vans, we can explain all.

You'll be glad to hear it's all part of a film, called Golden Years, which is being shot almost entirely in the West Country. It centres around the antics of a couple of bank-robbing pensioners.

Stars are flocking to Bristol to record the new film Credit: ITV News

It tells the story of Arthur and Martha's decision to turn to a life of crime, spurred on by their declining pension savings.

They rob banks and use some of the money to help save their local bowling club. And some to go on a caravan tour of National Trust properties in the Cotswolds.

But underpinning the comedy is deeper message about older people in society.

We were able to speak to some of the stars, which includes names such as Bernard Hill and Virginia McKenna as Arthur and Martha.

Ellen Thomas, known for Eastenders, plays Thelma.

Phil Davies, famous for his parts in Whitechapel and Silk, plays Brian.

Comedy star Simon Pegg back at Bristol Uni

Simon Pegg attended Bristol University. Credit: Domine Jerome/ABACA/Press Association Images

Hollywood actor Simon Pegg will be returning to his roots at the University of Bristol this afternoon.

Pegg, who graduated in 1991, will be back to reopen the Students' Union building on Queens Road. Its £30 million transformation includes a new theatre named after him.

The comic actor made his name with sitcom Spaced and cult favourite Shaun of the Dead. More recently he has starred as Enterprise engineer Scotty in the new Star Trek films.


New Bristol Arena design chosen

Bristol Arena Plaza Night Credit: Bristol City Council

The team behind the London 2012 Olympic Stadium have been chosen as the designers of the Bristol Arena.

Populous, the international arena and stadium design specialists, will work in partnership with the award winning Bath based practices Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects and BuroHappold Engineering.

Alongside the London 2012 stadium, Populous designed the O2 Arenas in London, Berlin and Dublin, and the recently completed Leeds Arena.

Bristol Arena Plaza Aerial Sketch Credit: Bristol City Council
Bristol Arena Foyer Credit: Bristol City Council
Bristol Arena Internal concert Credit: Bristol City Council

Design for new Bristol £90million arena will be chosen this afternoon

The final design for Bristol's £90 million indoor arena will be chosen today.

A panel of judges will choose from five designs and are due to announce the winner this afternoon.

The former diesel depot site beside Bristol Temple Meads will be the home to a 12,000 seater arena which will host sport and music events.

It will bring more than 900 jobs to Bristol and is expected to attract millions of pounds in additional spending to the region.

In January five designs were submitted.

No. 1 Credit: Bristol City Council
No. 2 Credit: Bristol City Council
No. 3 Credit: Bristol City Council
No. 4 Credit: Bristol City Council
No. 5 Credit: Bristol City Council

Wiltshire author Sir Terry Pratchett dies aged 66

Sir Terry Pratchett had been diagnosed with dementia Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Press Association Images

Best-selling fantasy fiction author Sir Terry Pratchett has died at the age of 66. The author of the multi-million selling Discworld series lived in Broad Chalke, a village west of Salisbury.

In 2007 he announced he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's. He had latterly been a prominent campaigner on behalf of people who have the disease.

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