Good news for Downton Abbey fans: filming on series two has officially begun!

Not too many secrets have been leaked (it’s early days, though), but there are a few tidbits we’ve learned.

1. In one of the set pictures, Robert appears to be in uniform, so  it looks like he’s going back into the service in some capacity, which isn’t too surprising.

2. Bates’s wayward wife, Vera, will make an appearance (I knew it!). What’s more, she’ll be played by Maria Doyle Kennedy, aka Katherine of Aragon from The Tudors

3. Aside from Kennedy, there are four other new additions to the cast: Iain Glen will play Sir Richard Carlisle, Amy Nuttall as new housemaid Ethel (presumably Gwen’s replacement—and another redhead at that), Zoe Boyle as Lavinia Swire, and Cal Macaninch as Lang, the new valet. What’s this? Are we losing Bates?! Say it isn’t so!

4. Aside from the 8-part second series, there will also be a Christmas special, which will pick up where series two ends.

Check out pictures from the set here. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely excited!

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