ITV has ordered eight new episodes of period drama Downton Abbey which will see writer Julian Fellowes take the series into the 1920s.

The new series will be set in 1920 and 1921, and the drama will cover a period of 18 months in the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. “I am extremely grateful to ITV for this. I have grown very fond of my Downton family and I certainly do not want to say goodbye to them quite yet.” Downton Abbey’s writer and creator Julian Fellowes said yesterday.

The globally successful series, which airs on ITV saw the first series prove a huge hit with audiences, viewers in Scotland however had to wait nearly a year before seeing the programme on STV. The second series however, while popular, has been met with far more criticisms over how the programme has “skipped” the Great War and has lost some of its charm with a change in certain production values.

“After 15 episodes and with a Christmas special episode to look forward to on ITV1 in December 2011, the nation remains obsessed and riveted by Downton Abbey.” ITV state.

The new series has been commissioned by ITV’s Director of Drama Commissioning Laura Mackie and Controller of Drama Commissioning Sally Haynes.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be bringing Downton Abbey back for a third series, as we follow the inhabitants of Downton as they move into the roaring 20’s. It’s rare to find a drama that the audience connects with so strongly and we’re extremely proud to have commissioned a series that has become such a phenomenon,” Said Laura.

Downton Abbey stars Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Penelope Wilton, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Jessica Findlay Brown, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Rob James-Collier, Siobhan Finneran, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, Allen Leech and Amy Nuttall.

Audience figures for the second series have increased by over 21 percent on the first series with a consolidated average of 11.5 million viewers watching the first six episodes of this current series – making it the most popular drama series on UK television for over 10 years ITV suggest.

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