‘Downton’ Roundup: Britain Watches Season 3 Premiere

A new season, and a new son-in-law for Lord Grantham. (ITV)

As you’ve doubtless heard by now if you’re any kind of Anglophile, Downton Abbey returned for its third season on British television on Sunday night (September 16). The ratings, as Variety used to say, were boffo.

Some 8.6 million Britons tuned in to see the 90-minute opener (no spoilers here, we promise) on ITV1, which meant it captured more than a third of available viewers. The show easily won the night’s ratings race though it drew 200,000 fewer viewers than watched the period drama’s Season 2 premiere a year ago.

In other Downton news:

• Dame Maggie Smith, who won an Emmy award a year ago for her performance as the Dowager Countess on the show and is up for another one this coming Sunday in Los Angeles (she won’t be attending), talked about being a fan favorite to USA Today.  She gave the interview while promoting her latest film, Quartet, at the Toronto Film Festival. (Quartet opens in the U.S. on December 28.)

Smith revealed her secret to adding the perfect dose of venom to the Dowager’s popular withering barbs on the show: “First you put someone in their place, then you ring the bell, then you stare and sigh, then you deliver another put-down,” Smith said.

While “What’s a weekend?” has become her signature line from the show, the veteran actress said her own favorite was, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Maggie Smith’s best zingers from Season 1:

• Show stars Elizabeth McGovern and Joanne Froggatt, who play Lady Cora Crawley and maid Anna Smith respectively, were among the celebrities who turned up at Claridge’s during London Fashion Week on Tuesday to view the latest looks from the noted British brand, Mulberry.

Reuters quoted McGovern as praising the show, saying, “It was really cheerful but subtle, it felt like spring but in a quirky, original way.” She also said that designer Emma Hill brought a “fabulous sense of pattern and cut” to the Mulberry line.

Famous faces in attendance included actress Rebecca Hall, model Kate Moss, British Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis, singer Lana Del Rey and ex-X-Files star Gillian Anderson. For a look at what they were all wearing while looking at the Mulberry frocks, click here:

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Are you sneaking peeks at British press coverage or video clips of Downton’s first episode in Season 3?

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