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It's the summer season and as part of Rose's 'coming out' she is to be presented at Buckingham Palace. The family and servants are at Grantham House, their London residence, preparing for the busy social program. Not one to miss such a grand occasion, Cora's mother, Martha Levinson makes the journey from New York with her playboy son Harold, fresh from his recent brush with the law. Both outspoken and larger-than-life, they make quite an impression amongst certain members of London's high society, in particular with Lord Aysgarth, played by James Fox.

Isobel finds herself with an admirer while Edith is wrestling with a moral dilemma. Downstairs, Daisy gets an unexpected invitation and Carson treats the staff to a special day out. When the Crawleys are implicated in a scandal that threatens to engulf the monarchy, Robert will go to great lengths to protect the royal family, and his own.

The episode was filmed in spectacular locations in London and the south of England including Lancaster House, which was used to depict the interiors of Buckingham Palace when Cora presents Lady Rose to The King and Queen, Goldsmith’s College, as well as the beach at West Wittering in Sussex and Basildon Park in Berkshire, which was used for the interiors of the Crawley’s as yet previously unseen London residence.

The episode will feature our returning stars Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Samantha Bond, Laura Carmichael, Lily James, Allen Leech, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Rob James-Collier, Ed Speleers, Cara Theobold, Kevin Doyle and Raquel Cassidy.

Making a return to Downton Abbey is Shirley MacLaine reprising her role as Martha Levinson, Cora’s mother, We also welcome back some familiar faces in Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Daisy Lewis, Patrick Kennedy, Tim Drewe and Douglas Reith. Joining the cast for the Christmas episode is Emmy and Golden Globe winner Paul Giamatti portraying Cora’s brother Harold Levinson, BAFTA award winner James Fox, alongside Poppy Drayton, playing his daughter Madeline, Oliver Dimsdale who plays the Prince of Wales, Janet Montgomery, Guy Williams, playing King George V and Michael Benz as Harold Levinsons valet, Ethan.

Series 4 of Downton Abbey saw the strongest ever series launch, with 12 million viewers tuning in and an overall 40% audience share, and the series consolidated at 11.8 million across the run. Carnival Films is part of NBCUniversal International Television Production.

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