Call it The Courtship Of Mary’s Mother And Father. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes told an industry audience at a BAFTA Screenwriters’ Lecture this week that he’s mulling a prequel to the hit period drama. Talking about a possible book, he said it would focus on how the Earl and Countess of Grantham first met. “I do actually have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship of Robert and Cora, when all those American heiresses were arriving in London… They had a slightly troubled courtship, because she was in love with him before they married, as we know, and he married her entirely for her money.” He added, “I sort of feel there’s something quite nice in there because he’s a decent cove, and so he feels rather guilty about this.” A person close to Downton tells Deadline this is the first they’ve heard of such a project and that Fellowes does not currently have a publishing deal for a prequel book. The characters, currently portrayed by Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, would be played by younger actors in any potential show. However, Fellowes noted that “Any other books or plays or films should follow after the end of the current television show.” In Cannes earlier this year, Fellowes told me he envisioned the show going on to at least a fourth season. Downton’s third season just began on ITV in the UK and is still drawing strong numbers, although they’re slightly down from Season 2.

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