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Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! Here, in full lurid detail, are the (probable) full lurid details of tonight's season three finale of Downton Abbey (8.35pm, Prime), the greatest most, most amazing television drama ever made. If you wish to know what happens next, read on ...

The programme opens with a grim-faced Mr Bates, freshly released from stir, taking the air by hobbling slowly in a circle around Downton Abbey's courtyard.

"Mustn't grumble," he says to no one in particular, then sighs. He stops and stares balefully at the marvellously blue sky, then resumes hobbling in a slow circle. "Mustn't grumble," he says again to no one in particular.

Meanwhile, upstairs in Lady Mary's room Mr Bates' wife Anna brushes Lady Mary's hair with one hand while wiping her tears away with the other.


"Is there something wrong?" asks Lady Mary.

"Mustn't grumble," says Anna.

"Oh, but there is something wrong!" says Lady Mary, deciding that she must be outspoken. Then she leaps to her feet and goes down to breakfast. Alone now, Anna stares through her tears out the window at Mr Bates hobbling slowly in the courtyard. Was it just her imagination, or did Mr Bates smile slightly as he lurched forward while trying to kick one of Lord Grantham's prized pigeons?

Meanwhile, downstairs Lady Mary enters the dining room to find the ghost of Lady Sybil taking tea while Lord Grantham glares at a copy of The Times. "I see Johnny Turk is at it again," he thunders, "not to mention those appalling Paddys. What is the world coming to?"

Lady Sybil says nothing, but Lady Mary decides she must be outspoken. "Oh Daddy, you're so old-fashioned," she says firmly but while giving him an indulgent smile. "This is 1921: we call them camel jockeys and Micks these days."

"I am sure you're right," he thunders, "because I always wrong about everything! Just look at poor Sybil!"

Looking as pale as a ghost, Lady Sybil bursts into tears and flees the room by running through a wall. The dog tries to follow but can't. Lord Grantham furrows his brow slightly at this unexpected turn, realises it's probably just the madness of the modern world, then goes back to The Times and is heard to mutter something about "fuzzy-wuzzies".

The Dowager Countess enters the dining room and begins regarding the furniture, the drapes, the paintings, the china, the servants and Lady Mary and Lord Grantham with some irony.

"I am not amused," she says to a chair.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen Mrs Patmore and Daisy are up to their elbows in a pie.

"I say, Daisy," says Mrs Patmore sternly.

"Yes, Mrs Patmore," says Daisy stoically.

"I say, Daisy," says Mrs Patmore sternly.

"Yes, Mrs Patmore," says Daisy stoically.

In his tiny office Mr Carson is at his mantelpiece attempting to turn his clock back. Thomas enters, smoking, and says "Mr Carson, I am feeling a bit queer". Mr Carson gives him a look that says "I might be gruff, but I understand". Then he sacks him on the spot.

Meanwhile, in the library, Matthew Crawley is using a magnifying glass to look for signs of money in Downton Abbey's books. When he doesn't find any, he pulls out a lottery ticket and begins comparing the numbers on it with those in the morning's Telegraph.

Lady Edith enters and spots the paper.

"Oh, I am doing a story for them!" she says brightly attempting but failing to hide the pain of being plain. "It's about a TV show called Country House Rescue, a programme where an expert visits struggling country houses like this one and tries to turn its fortunes around by giving mad advice like going into bees. I really think you and Daddy should do it!"

"Don't worry!" Matthew says, sweeping his golden hair from his brow while worrying vaguely about his sperm count. "I think I may have won Powerball this week. That should see us through to the next Christmas special."

- TimeOut