Some things never change ... the Dowager Countess and Mrs Crawley.

Some things never change ... the Dowager Countess and Mrs Crawley.

The fifth season of the UK's (and much of the world's) most watched drama, Downton Abbey, will premiere on September 21 in the UK. Network Seven, which has local rights to the hit ITV period drama, is expected to launch it in early 2015.

According to a 60-second trailer for the new season which was quietly released on the weekend, "Downton is catching up with the times that we live in," in the words of Mrs Hughes, the prim and proper head housekeeper who tries — and occasionally succeeds — at keeping order among the often unruly servants who tend to the aristocrats upstairs.

While that portentous — and it must be said cliche — utterance will hardly send the show's army of fans into a lather, the lightning-paced teaser suggests that activities in the bedrooms of the stately mansion might.

In fleeting glimpses that are clearly aimed at teasing rather than revealing, we see footman Jimmy "sprung" in bed with a dark-haired woman. Lady Mary, perhaps, though it seems that her devoted suitor Tony, that's Lord Gillingham to you and I, appears to have finally won the heart of stoic Mary, whose bed partners, in any case, have a tendency to die in short succession in unfortunate accidents.

Elsewhere in the trailer we see lots of running through the upstairs and downstairs corridors and a blazing fire from which Tom Branson flees with children on his arms.

The wonderfully mischievous Thomas declares "this house has no secrets" (like, yeah) and the Dowager Countess makes a comment about the servants that is as barbed as anything that her poisonous mind could produce.

 

There are snatches of new characters played by Richard E. Grant and Anna Chancellor, though fingers crossed the absence of servant Molesley, whose performance by Kevin Doyle is arguably the best of the many fine performances on the show, is purely coincidental.

Season five takes place in 1924 where season four left off as Ramsay MacDonald becomes the first ever Labour prime minister of the UK.