Production on a Downton Abbey film will begin this northern summer, the official Twitter account for the series announced at the weekend, sending fans of the period drama into a frenzy.

The Twitter announcement included a photo for an invitation that reads: "We cordially invite you to return to Downton Abbey. Only in Cinemas."

It will feature all the big names as Focus Features announced the original principal cast would make the film.

Few details have come out about the plot, but the Guardian reported the story was "expected" to pick up in 1926, where the series finale ended things, which could mean the stars from earlier seasons who were killed off won't return.

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Several stars of the series have publicly spoken about their eagerness for a movie, and posted their excitement online.

Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley) tweeted "2019", probably referring to when the movie would be released. "The secret's out," Michelle Dockery (who played Lady Mary) wrote on Instagram.

"Delighted to announce we're getting the band back together," tweeted Joanne Froggatt (who played Anna Bates).

Chatter about a possible movie persisted for years. But one star who's been less than thrilled with the prospect of a feature-length film? Maggie Smith, who won three Emmys and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the Dowager Countess of Grantham. She's long dismissed the idea of a movie after six seasons.

"I can't - what age would she be?" she told Graham Norton in 2015.

"I'm glad it's over, I really am," she told him about the series ending. "By the time we finished, she must have been about 110. It couldn't go on and on, it just didn't make sense."

Series creator Julian Fellowes is penning the screenplay, with series pilot director Brian Percival returning to direct the film. The movie will be produced by Carnival films and distributed by Focus Features and Universal Pictures International.

"When the television series drew to a close it was our dream to bring the millions of global fans a movie, and now, after getting many stars aligned, we are shortly to go into production," said Carnival executive chairman and the film's producer, Gareth Neame.

The period drama chronicles the lives of the aristocratic Crawleys (the upstairs) and their servants (the downstairs).