In the first glimpse of Lady Mary Crawley since her husband Matthew was tragically killed on the day their baby was born, her lips are as pursed and her skin is almost as furrowed as her grandmother’s.
The newly released trailer for Downton Abbey Series Four shows Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery, being urged by her stalwart granny (the fabulous Dame Maggie Smith) to “choose life”. The turn of phrase might echo sentiments from Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, but in this context is more redolent of the Dowager Countess’ remarks that Lady Mary better find a man “before the bloom goes off the rose.”
Cue a succession of handsome and well-dressed young suitors and Lady Mary suddenly wearing a tiara and looking a bit happier. Only in Julian Fellowes’ magical land can the trials of being a young widowed mother be brushed under the carpet with quite such style. She receives the attentions – and potential invitations to remove her widows weeds - from Lord Anthony Gillingham (Tom Cullen), Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden), and Evelyn Napier (Brendan Patricks). Matthew who?
The excitement of the next series flashes past us in a drunken haze during the 55 second teaser: parties, jazz, new characters (Downton’s first black character Jack, Gary Carr; EastEnders’ Nigel Harman), opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa , illicit kisses, tears, hugs, and a very stern looking Mr Carson (Jim Carter).
The normally dowdy Crawley sister, Lady Edith, appears glammed up to the nines in diamonds and there are other familiar faces, of course, such as Lord and Lady C, the inimitable Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern (who is fresh from appearing with her band at the Edinburgh Fringe).
Racy cousin Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James), otherwise known as Lady Sybil’s replacement, is also taking a starring role. She can be seen introducing Jack to the kitchen staff. And Lady Mary and Tom Branson (her sister Sybill's widower) can be seen left holding the babies - and there is the suggestion of a love interest for him, too.
ITV returns to Highclere Castle later this month.