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“AUDIENCES don’t like to be treated as if they’re stupid.

“Sometimes I think we dumb things down and underestimate the intelligence of an audience.

“We’re not stupid. We don’t need it hammered into our head.

“We want to work a little bit.

“And I think this asks that of the audience.”

Anna Friel talking to me on location in Paddington about Marcella (ITV, 9pm, Monday April 4).

A truly outstanding eight-part drama filmed and set in London written by The Bridge’s Hans Rosenfeldt.

With one of the most gripping scripts I’ve ever read.

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“LIFE is strange, isn’t it?”

Downton Abbey series three, episode nine.

Otherwise known as the 2012 Christmas Special, just broadcast by ITV1 tonight – December 25 – in the UK.

If you have yet to watch it, do NOT read any further.

Come back later once you have viewed.

That obviously also goes for our American cousins waiting for series three to begin on PBS on Jan 6.

As well as other Downton fans across the globe who are not yet up to the UK series pace.

There are major spoilers below.

So unless you want to read them, stop now.

He’s not writing about us again, is he?

“I’m looking forward to all sorts of things,” exclaims Matthew Crawley.

He’s talking to his wife-to-be Lady Mary in the first episode of Downton Abbey series three.

I’m guessing you’re also looking forward to all sorts of Downton fun in the coming weeks.

So you will find only the mildest of spoilers below.

Will Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Mary’s (Michelle Dockery) wedding go ahead without a hitch?

Or will there be last minute complications?

Can Downton be saved in the face of a financial crisis?

And how long before Mr Bates (Brendan Coyle) hits his cell mate?

I saw the 90 minute opening episode and highlights from the rest of the series at the London press launch way back in July.

The verdict of the massed ranks of Her Majesty’s Press?

Julian Fellowes’ Downton is very much back on top form.

I know Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and co have their critics.

But, frankly, I could watch Mr Carson (Jim Carter) saying, “That treacle tart just hit the spot,” all night long.

THE Christmas tree is being decorated as the house prepares for the festive season.

Before the Granthams hand out presents to their servants for Christmas Day 1919.

Welcome to the Downton Abbey Christmas special, screened for the media at London’s Mayfair Hotel this afternoon (Tuesday Dec 13).

Followed by two question and answer sessions with the cast.