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Christmas for the real life residents of Highclere Castle

Christmas tree on the set of Downton Abbey Credit: ITV Meridian

Now Christmas Day wouldn't be the same without turkey, crackers and of course Downton Abbey. It's set to hit out screens for a special episode next Thursday. Last year fans of the series were shocked when Matthew Crawley, Lady Mary's husband died. So is Christmas at the real Downton - Highclere Castle in Hampshire - as dramatic? Mel Bloor has itsstory.

Earl Grantham & other 'Downton' puppies re-homed

The puppies were found abandoned in a cardboard box Credit: Blue Cross

A litter of puppies, found abandoned in a park in Southampton, have all been re-homed. But they weren't homeless for long - helped by the fact they were named after characters from the ITV Drama Downton Abbey. Earl Grantham, Lady Edith and Martha are now settling in with their new owners.

Martha with one of her new owners Credit: Blue Cross

Martha was the first of the litter to go and live with her new owners, who travelled all the way from Nottingham just to meet her.

She’s now enjoying family life, and her troubled past is firmly behind her. Her owner, Josephine Smedley, says: “Martha is full of energy and loves spending time with the family. She comes to work with us and also enjoys playing with our grandchildren, who she gets on really well with.”

New cast members joining Downton Abbey

Carnival Films and ITV today announced a number of new cast members joining Series 5 of the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning hit drama Downton Abbey_.

New cast members are joining series 5 of Downton Abbet=y Credit: ITV Meridian

Richard E. Grant is joining the show, which is filmed at Highclere Castle on the Hampshire/Berkshire border.

He's joining the cast as Simon Bricker who visits Downton Abbey as a guest of the Granthams.

Anna Chancellor joins as a guest role, playing Lady Anstruther. The BAFTA nominated actress comes from her recent success in the West End in Private Lives._

Internationally acclaimed actor Rade Sherbedgia will play a Russian refugee, who has fled the Russian revolution after the First World War.

Returning guest cast member Dame Harriet Walter will reprise her role as Lady Shackleton, along with Peter Egan, returning as Lord Flintshire.

Shirley MacLaine's new Downton identity

Shirley MacLaine Credit: ITV News

Hollywood star Shirley MacLaine says her appearance on ITV's Downton Abbey has had an extraordinary effect on how she's recognised on the street.

"My whole identity is now Downton Abbey" she says "All that I have done - How many films? All my books? I am no longer a New Age, giddy dingbat. I am now the one on Downton Abbey".

The series is filmed at Highclere Castle, on the Berkshire and Hampshire border, and is the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Indeed, it's one of England's most beautiful Victorian castles.


  1. National

PM: 'We've got to do more' about flooding

The Prime Minister has visited Yalding in Kent which was affected by flooding.

During a visit to Yalding in Kent, which was affected by flooding, the Prime Minister said: "There are a lot of things that need to be fixed.

"We need the insurance companies to get round so the loss adjusters can help householders, we need the council to get round with skips so people can get their carpets, their furniture removed, we need to get the power back on and then we need to learn the lessons.

"We are seeing these events take place more often. The Government is spending more on flood defences over the next four years than over the last four years.

"There are a lot of flood defences being built. Something like 80,000 houses were protected this time but we've got to do more and so we need to work with the Environment Agency and see what more we can do to learn any lessons from this flood and other floods.

"But right now the priority is help people recover from the terrible shock of this happening to them on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day."

  1. National

Five released 'Arctic 30' Brits arrive in Paris

Greenpeace have told Political Correspondent Libby Wiener that the four British activists and one UK journalist allowed to leave Russia after being held over the protest in the Arctic have arrived in Paris.

Lady Edith's becoming a modern 1920's woman

Video. She went to school in Southampton, college in Winchester and then the Bristol Old Vic theatre school. Now Laura Carmichael has been propelled to fame as Lady Edith in the hit series of Downton Abbey, which is back on our screens on Sunday.

Poor Lady Edith was jilted at the altar and was always in the shadow of her older sister Lady Mary. But in series 4, she is developing as a thoroughly modern woman in the 1920's. Divya Kohli went to meet her.

Lady Mary still in mourning in new series of Downton

She is an English Rose, but has been wilting and losing her colour after a terrible tragedy. We are talking about Lady Mary in Downton Abbey played by Michelle Dockery.

The actress, who won the Gold Medal for Drama at the world-renowned Guildhall School of Music, has now been nominated for an Emmy. She told Divya Kohli how she is having to develop her character as the storyline leaves her mourning her dead husband, while wooed by new suitors.

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