Dame Penelope Wilton hints third Downton Abbey film may not be last

Dame Penelope Wilton has spoken about returning to Downton Abbey (PA Wire)
Dame Penelope Wilton has spoken about returning to Downton Abbey (PA Wire)

Dame Penelope Wilton has shared her joy at reuniting with the Downton Abbey cast for a third film, teasing that it may not be the last.

The actress, 77, has played the character of Isobel Crawley since The ITV drama series first debuted in 2010. It ran for six series until 2015, with the first of the two films being released in 2019.

While castmate Imelda Staunton recently told Zoe Ball on her BBC Radio 2 breakfast show that this would be the “final film”, but Wilton isn’t so sure, especially with series 7 of the TV show also confirmed.

Speaking to the Standard, she teased: “Oh, I don’t know about that! I haven’t been told that so we don’t know.”

She said: “We’re all involved, all the regulars are involved again. We start… I’m not entirely sure because I’m not right at the beginning, there are different storylines which I can’t tell you a thing about because I am sworn to secrecy. It will be filming throughout the summer.”

Dame Penelope Wilton (right) pictured with former co-star Dame Maggie Smith (Handout)
Dame Penelope Wilton (right) pictured with former co-star Dame Maggie Smith (Handout)

Reflecting on Downton’s legacy, she said: “It is a very unique experience because we’ve been together since 2009 on and off and we’ve always come back to it and with the same group of people, well, sadly without Maggie [Smith] this time but up until now. It has been very nice seeing everyone again.”

The stage veteran recently returned to the West End in Backstairs Billy starring alongside Luke Evans who she described as a “dear”.

But despite a plethora of TV and film credits also including Ever Decreasing Circles, After Life, Calendar Girls and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Wilton says people don’t tend to recognise her when out and about.

“I’m not that often recognised it’s as soon as I open my mouth that people recognise me – when I speak. I can disappear, which is lucky.”

Her voice is about to come to the fore once again voicing Mrs Owl in new emotional health app Embers the Dragon, which aims to help children aged 3-7 build emotional resilience and is currently undergoing a clinical trial run by the School of Applied Sciences at London South Bank University.

Jo Brand, Giovanni Fletcher, Nigel Clarke and Izzy Judd are also onboard with the digital intervention which is centred around a parenting course with content for children, including an animation series, games and activities.

Wilton said: “I was shocked to learn that new research shows one in every six children is diagnosed with a mental health condition in the UK which gets worse when older if not addressed.”

This week marks Mental Health Awareness week and according to a survey of over 1000 parents carried out by the developers behind Embers the Dragon, the main emotional health issues that parents report include concerns over anxiety (46 percent), neurodevelopmental conditions (32 percent), and low mood (29 percent).

Meanwhile, two thirds (69 percent) said that their child has emotional challenges such as identifying or defining their feelings, communicating how they feel or managing them in unfamiliar situations.

Wilton added: “I was thrilled to be involved and Embers is not just for children with mental health difficulties, it’s for all children because everyone struggles at some point coming to terms with the world around them.”

Penelope Wilton is Mrs Owl, the supportive teacher in Embers the Dragon, a new app and animation to address emotional health issues in children, visit www.embersthedragon.co.uk.