Who stars in Downton Abbey’s Christmas Special?

Alun Armstong for Downton’s festive episode

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© ITV / Carnival

Details for this years’s two-hour Christmas episode of Downton Abbey have been revealed by ITV and Carnival Films.

The episode rejoins the family in the early autumn of 1924 at Brancaster Castle (filmed in Alnwick Castle, in Northumberlandand) and features guest stars, Alun Armstrong (New Tricks, Sleepy Hollow), who will play Stowell, the Sinderbys’ butler; Jane Lapotaire (Blind Justice, Shooting Fish) who will play the much talked about Princess Irina, wife of Prince Kuragin (Rade Sherbedgia) who reprises his role. Meanwhile, James Faulkner and Penny Downie will return as Lord and Lady Sinderby, along with their son and Lady Rose’s husband Matt Barber as Atticus Aldridge. Michael Fox will play footman Andy.

It’s grouse shooting season and Rose’s father-in-law, Lord Sinderby, has rented out Brancaster Castle in Northumberland and invited the Crawley family to a shooting party. While good sport is enjoyed, Stowell (Armstrong) has an axe to grind and a scandalous secret threatens to undermine the holiday.  Surprises are in store as the families become better acquainted with each other and some new faces arrive on the scene.

Meanwhile the servants hold the fort back at Downton. As Anna faces an uncertain future behind bars, Bates takes drastic measures in a bid to clear her name. Baxter and Molesley are busy on a joint plan and Carson and Mrs Hughes consider a business venture.

The episode will also feature regular cast members Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Laura Carmichael, Lily James, Allen Leech, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Robert James-Collier, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, Sue Johnston, Jeremy Swift, Douglas Reith, Fifi Hart and Zac and Oliver Barker.

Downton Abbey will air on ITV Christmas Day at 9pm.