By Joe Cunningham | The Playlist January 31, 2012 at 9:43AM
When Julian Fellowes isn’t busy trying to destroy the British film industry, you can find him writing one of the most successful British shows of the past decade, "Downton Abbey." The costume drama, set on a North Yorkshire abbey estate has proved supremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic; garnering critical acclaim, impressive viewing figures, and even a slew of Primetime Emmys and a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries.
With the second season concluding in the U.K. in December with a Christmas special, and due to finish airing on PBS on February 19th, production is gearing up for the highly anticipated third season, and it looks like there’s going to be a big name joining the already impressive ensemble. Deadline reports that Shirley Maclaine has been cast as the American-born mother of Elizabeth McGovern’s character, Lady Grantham. The third series is expected to air in the U.K. from September onwards, and now fans of the show can inevitably look forward to seeing Maclaine’s character (Martha Levinson) locking horns with Downton’s other matriarch, Maggie Smith’s (mother of the Earl) Violet Crawley.
This writer has to admit to not yet being hooked by "Downton Abbey" in the same way so many seem to be, having only caught a few episodes of the show (including the recent Christmas special). Having said that, this is a piece of casting which will surely delight Downton’s pre-existing fans, and maybe draw in a few interested onlookers (like myself), particularly in the U.S. to give the show a shot. This adds to a growing and busy calendar for MacLaine in 2012 who also recently signed on to Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty."