As the new series gets ready to hit our screens, here are 5 facts to get you in the Downton mood. You'll be shocked!

As everyone’s fave period drama returns to ITV, we can’t help but wonder if there are any more Downton Abbey-esque factoids that we can cram into our noggins.

Is there anything left to know??

Well, for those that know their Carsons from their Crawleys, here are five more titbits of info to wet your Downton appetite.

1. There are some famous faces at Downton this year!

In the past, we’ve seen the likes of Hollywood heavyweights Paul Giamatti and Shirley MacLaine popping up in Downton. And this year you can expect appearances from Richard E Grant as a friend of the Granthams; The Royale Family‘s Sue Johnston as lady’s maid to the Dowager Countess; and Four Weddings And A Funeral‘s ‘Duckface’ Anna Chancellor, starring in the first episode as Lady Anstrther.

And if the cast could wish for any other dream castmate?
‘I’ve heard Maggie Gyllenhaal loves the show, so if she wanted to pop in she’d be more than welcome!’, Michelle Dockerty tells Now this week. ‘Or Beyonce, perhaps.’ Here’s hoping!

2. Downton’s gentlemen have slightly embarrassing pasts…

As Charles Blake, Julian Ovenden, 37, only has eyes for Lady Mary. But at the start of his career thousands of womens eyes were on HIM as a Diet Coke advert hunk. Yumm.

Meanwhile, scheming under-butler Thomas, aka Rob James-Collier, was busy starring in Argos adverts for calculators and a teenage Ed Speelers and his chiselled abs were shooting shirtless magazine covers after he was signed as a model. Things have certainly changed, lads!

3. George Clooney certainly made an impression on the set…

Appearing in this year’s Downton charity Christmas special, George Clooney made no bones about charming the pants off of the notoriously priggish Dowager Countess of Grantham, Maggie Smith.

Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith) explains, ‘There is a very brilliant moment with Maggie and George – and I don’t know if I want to give away any more than that really – but Maggie does a very comedy fall. George plants a kiss and Maggie ends up on the floor, it’s wonderful. He was hilarious.’ The Clooney on Downton? Making Maggie Smith faint?! Have all our Christmases come at once

4. What do Pammie, Scully and Lady Cora have in common…?

Yeah, we made that face too. But there is actually a link. X Files‘ first lady Gillian Anderson actually turned down the role of Lady Cora Grantham (now played by Elizabeth McGovern) while Baywatch super-babe Pamela Anderson declined the role of Agent Scully in X Files way back when. We imagine quite a few tears and a lot of spilt milk. A whole heap of bad decisions there ladies….

5. The Downton Castle is as famous as it’s cast

Highclere Castle in Hampshire where Downton is filmed has had it’s fair share of famous feet descending those grand staircases. As well as playing host to tons of period dramas, Highclere has also been a set for movies such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Stanley Kubrick’s sexy drama Eyes Wide Shut (capturing the Cruise and the Kidman in rather ‘matrimonial’ positions), and um…King Ralph. Yeah, we had to slip that one in. Soz.

Amie-Jo Locke

SEE PICTURES Geordie Shore do Downton Abbey