ITV and Carnival Film have unwrapped details about the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey, which rejoins the family in the early autumn of 1924. A pair of guest stars are joining the regular cast: Alun Armstrong will play Stowell, the Sinderbys’ butler and Jane Lapotaire is the much talked-about Princess Irina, wife of Prince Kuragin (Rade Sherbedgia). It’s grouse-shooting season, and Rose’s father-in-law, Lord Sinderby, has rented out Brancaster Castle in Northumberland and invited the Crawley family to a shooting party. Stowell (Armstrong) has an ax to grind and a scandalous secret threatens to undermine the holiday. Surprises are in store as the families become better acquainted with each other and some new faces arrive on the scene. Meanwhile the servants hold the fort back at Downton. The two-hour episode will air Christmas Day on ITV.
Endemol has inked an exclusive first-look development and distribution pact with U.K. producer Amber Television, run by former New Line exec Ileen Maisel and documentary filmmaker Lawrence Elman. The three-year deal will see Endemol provide development funding and deficit financing in return for exclusive first-look distribution rights on Amber Television output. Amber’s upcoming projects include Stratton: First Into Action, starring Henry Cavill; London’s Falling, directed by Simon Aboud; and The Perfect Assassin, adapted by Andy Briggs and fully financed by SND in France.
Hunger Games and Game Of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer is set as the lead in BBC Two’s 18th century factual drama The Woman In Red, about the scandalous life of Lady Seymour Worsley. Produced by Wall to Wall Media and directed by Sheree Folkson, the untold true story is written by David Eldridge, who based his screenplay on Hallie Rubenhold’s book Lady Worsley’s Whim. Worsley was a passionate, courageous woman who dared to leave her husband and elope with his best friend. The 90-minute drama focuses on the very public trial brought by her powerful husband, Sir Richard Worsley, played by Shaun Evans (Endeavour). Aneurin Barnard also stars. Eleanor Greene and Leanne Klein are executive producers for Wall to Wall with Folkson. Madonna Baptiste produces for air in 2015. Dormer is just out in Mockingjay Part I and is starring in Screen Gems’ upcoming Patient Zero with Matt Smith.
The Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar is to appear in his first Hindi-language role with Punha. The Mumbai-set dystopian thriller centers on a new technology that allows people who have lost a loved one to purchase a replica android. The emotional exploration of how people deal with death and what it truly means to be alive is directed by Arati Kadav and produced by The Lunchbox and Gangs Of Wasseypur’s Guneet Monga with Ben Rekhi via Sikhya Entertainment, a company focused on the new wave of Indian filmmakers.