Edwardian soap opera Downton Abbey, which will air first on Britain’s ITV next month and then later this year in America on PBS, has added a new character to its third season sure to shake things up — Cora’s (Elizabeth McGovern) mother Martha Levinson, played by Shirley MacLaine.
For those not up on Downton history, Cora married the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) for position while he married her for money. Though it turned out to be a good match in the end (as they are actually affectionate with one another), there are clearly mixed feelings by the Earl’s mother, Violet, Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) about an American having rescued their estate. Now, several decades later, with Downton’s fortunes again on the downturn, it seems that Martha is in town for a visit (to pay some bills?) but she’ll be up against Violet’s distain and sharp barbs. For a preview of their deliciously devilish discourse, hit the jump.
In addition to MacLaine’s character, there are several other new faces at Downton this year, including a two new footmen (one of whom is O’Brien’s nephew … the Downton Troll Society gains a new member!), a new kitchen maid and lady’s maid.
In an interview earlier this year Downton Abbey‘s executive producer, Rebecca Eaton, said that upcoming plots will include a couple will getting married, a baby born, and a well-known character’s death. Begin speculations … now!
But the best scenes are sure to star MacLaine and Smith, and for those of us who are wary of the series after its questionable second season turn, perhaps we should take Martha’s advice, “maybe you should think about letting go of its hand.” After all, it’s terrible to be a defeatist. It’s so middle class.