Downton Abbey goes to London

The 'Downton Abbey' Christmas special will be based at the Crawley family's London residence

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Hugh Bonneville

Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville

'Downton Abbey' bosses have unveiled details of this year's Christmas episode.

The period drama's two-hour special - which will go head-to-head against 'EastEnders' in the 8.30pm slot on Christmas Day (25.12.13) - will see the family and servants head at their London residence Grantham house for the summer and the Crawleys implicated in a scandal that threatens to engulf the monarchy, prompting the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) to go to great lengths to protect both the royals and his own family.

The episode signals the return of Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, who arrives from New York with playboy son Harold (Paul Giamatti), and both make a big impression in the capital's high society - in particular with Lord Aysgarth, played by cast newcomer James Fox.

Meanwhile, as part of Rose's (Lily James) coming out, she is to be presented at Buckingham Palace, Isobel (Penelope Wilton) has an admirer and Edith (Laura Carmichael) is struggling with a moral dilemma.

Downstairs, Carson (Jim Carter) treats the staff to a special trip out and Daisy (Sophie McShera) gets a surprising invitation.

The episode was filmed in a variety of locations including Lancaster House for the interior of Buckingham Palace and Basildon Park in Berkshire, which doubled as the Crawley's previously-unseen London residence. Scenes were also shot at Goldsmith's College in London and the beach at West Wittering in Sussex.

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