09:25 04 November 2011
Downton Abbey has been renewed for a third series, ITV has confirmed.
The period drama will return for its third run of eight episodes, written by the shows creator Julian Fellowes.
Fellows said of the recommission:
"I am extremely grateful to ITV for this. I have grown very fond of my Downton family and I certainly do not want to say goodbye to them quite yet."
The third series will be set in 1920 and 1921 and will cover the story of the Crawley family and their servants for a period of 18 months.
The second series, which concludes on ITV1 this Sunday, has been the most popular drama series on UK television for more than a decade, achieving a consolidated average of 11.5 million viewers.
Laurie Mackie, ITV's director of drama commissioning, said:
"We're absolutely delighted to be bringing Downton Abbey back for a third series, as we follow the inhabitants of Downton as they move into the roaring 20s.
"It's rare to find a drama that the audience connects with so strongly and we're extremely proud to have commissioned a series that has become such a phenomenon."
Downton Abbey will also return for a Christmas special to air on ITV1 on Christmas Day.
An ITV spokesperson confirmed the news, saying:
"We are delighted that Downton Abbey will be part of ITV's Christmas lineup."
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