A sneak preview of the next series of Downton Abbey has revealed that viewers can expect fireworks between Maggie Smith and series newcomer Shirley MacLaine.

In clips shown to the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles, ahead of a panel discussion with cast members, the aristorcratic Crawley family also have to face up to financial woes – while all is not well with the newly-engaged Matthew and Mary.

And one scene also showed Hugh Bonneville’s Robert Crawley – aka Lord Grantham – having to confess to wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) that an investment has gone wrong.

“Has some of my fortune been lost?” she asks, only for him to tearfully tell her, “Almost all.”

Meanwhile, it looks as if the relationship between Smith’s Dowager Countess and MacLaine’s character Laura will be a fiery one.

At one point Violet tells Matthew, “When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.”

A puzzled Matthew asks “But isn’t she American?” only to be told, “Exactly.”

Other plots explored in the series, which will be set at the start of the 1920s, will include revealing the fate of John Bates, who was convicted of murdering his wife in the last series.

The show will return to ITV1 in the autumn.