Ex Coronation St star Rob in ITV1 costume drama

Rob James Collier is to co-star with Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville in a seven-part ITV1 costume drama, Downton Abbey.

The major launch has been created and written by Oscar winner Julian Fellowes and the impressive cast also includes Hugh Bonneville, Penelope Wilton, Jim Carter and two other former Coronation Street stars Siobahn Finneran and Joanne Froggatt.

Fellowes said: “In 1912, England was teetering on the brink. Apparently placid, still rooted in the traditions of many centuries, it would be less than 10 years before the First World War and the Jazz Age had ripped every certainty to shreds.

“This is the moment when we enter the world of Downton Abbey, the great house of a great family, where the Granthams and their daughters preside over a household in the charge of Carson, the butler, and Mrs Hughes, the housekeeper. All these people must, in their different ways, deal with the changes that are coming.”

James Collier, who played Laim Connor in Coronation Street, has been cast as first footman to the Grantham family, while Dame Maggie plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham and Hugh the Earl of Grantham.

The Anglo-American co-production will start shooting in March with a tentative screen date of autumn 2010.

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