Downton Abbey will return for a Christmas special this year, ITV has announced.

The festive helping of the popular costume drama will continue where the second series, an eight-part run scheduled for autumn 2011, ends.

Downton Abbey, written by Gosford Park creator Julian Fellowes, was ITV’s surprise hit of 2010, launching on September 26 last year to an audience of 11.8 million.

The series finale on November 7 was watched by 12.8 million viewers – the biggest audience for an episode of a new drama series on any channel since 2003.

 

Gareth Neame, executive producer and managing director, Carnival Films said: “The public’s reaction to the first series of Downton Abbey was gratifying. With a combined audience of 12.8 million people tuning into the last episode we are delighted ITV have decided to return with all the main characters of Downton at Christmas.”

 

Laura Mackie, director of drama, ITV added: “Julian has come up with a fantastic story that will give the audience the chance to enjoy the experience of the festive season at Downton Abbey. We’re delighted to have this as part of our Christmas schedule for December 2011.”