The film will begin production later this summer

It’s official – Downton Abbey the movie is in the works with the original star cast of the TV series reuniting for the film.

Producers said that the “original principal cast” from the period drama will return for the movie, to begin production later this summer.

Downton’s creator Julian Fellowes wrote the new screenplay and will also co-produce the hotly anticipated film.

The announcement has followed fevered speculation about when the ITV drama, starring Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Dame Maggie Smith, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter and others, would make it to the big-screen.

Michelle, who played Lady Mary Crawley, wrote on Instagram: “The secret’s out… Thrilled to announce that Downton Abbey is coming to the big screen.”

Joanne Froggatt, who played Anna Bates, tweeted a snap of herself alongside Dockery and Dame Maggie Smith (who played Lady Crawley), writing: “Delighted to announce we’re getting the band back together!”

Brian Percival, whose credits include The Book Thief and About A Girl and who directed the series’ pilot, will direct the film.

The film’s producer Gareth Neame said in a statement: “When the television series drew to a close it was our dream to bring the millions of global fans a movie and now, after getting many stars aligned, we are shortly to go into production.

“Julian’s script charms, thrills and entertains and in Brian Percival’s hands we aim to deliver everything that one would hope for as Downton comes to the big screen”.

Peter Kujawski, chairman of production company Focus Features, said: “Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family’s next chapter.

“We’re thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen.”

Hit TV series Downton Abbey followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th Century in an Edwardian English country home.

Over six series, it became the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys.

Phyllis Logan, who played housekeeper Mrs Hughes, told the Mail On Sunday in December that the cast had been consulted about when they are available and added: “There’s a potential script coming our way, slightly rewritten.”

The final episode of Downton aired on December 25, 2015 on ITV.