Downton Abbey favourite returns for third film with huge baby shock

Downton Abbey: A New Era poster
Downton Abbey: A New Era poster. (Image credit: Focus Features)

It has been revealed that Joanne Froggatt will return to her role as Anna Bates in Downton Abbey 3 - but she's back with a twist! 

The much-loved star played Lady Crawley's maid, in Downton Abbey from 2010 until the finale in 2015 and the first two films, and now she is back filming the third movie along with most of the show's original cast members. 

The third and final movie in the franchise is filming this summer, with a release date set for 2025, and according to reports Joanne has been seen back on set in character - complete with what looks like a baby bump. 

Whether Anna is pregnant or not remains to be officially confirmed, however, an insider reportedly told The Sun: "This will be welcome news for fans of the drama because Anna was a particular favorite but none of the cast members were guaranteed to return.

“Although the producers have tried to reunite most of the Downton stars, not all of them have been able to commit, even if they did appear in the first two films.”

Joanne Froggatt attends the Huishan Zhang show during London Fashion Week

Joanne Froggatt is returning for Downton Abbey 3.  (Image credit: Getty Images)

After months of speculation, producers confirmed a third movie was on the way in May 2024.

All our old favourites characters will be back, while stars such as Paul Giamatti, Joely Richardson, Alessandro Nivola, Simon Russell Beale and Arty Froushan will be joining the cast. Dominic West will also reprise his role as Guy Dexter from Downton Abbey: A New Era.

“It feels amazing and a tad emotional," said Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, in a video confirming the news. "It's wonderful all to be back together again. You come back together and it's like no time has passed at all." 

Unfortunately, one cast member unlikely to return is Imelda Staunton, who played Maud Bagshaw. Despite the fact the star of The Crown was the first to confirm the film was in production when she let the cat out of the bag on Zoe Ball's Radio 2 Breakfast Show in March 2024, the movie is set to film at the same time Imelda is appearing in Hello Dolly! at the London Palladium Theatre. 

Fortunately, her real-life husband, Jim Carter, will reprise his Downton role, Charles Carson, as will Hugh Bonneville, who plays the Earl of Grantham.

Filming on the third spin-off movie is underway, with a release date of 2025 likely. 

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.