FILM REVIEW | Downton Abbey

As soon as the familiar melody of the Downton Abbey theme starts to come to life on screen, it's hard not to smile.

It's been a few years since audiences have heard those beautiful notes.

The hugely popular television show went off the air with a Christmas special in 2015 but has now been brought back to life with a movie, set a little while after the series finale.

The film, also called Downton Abbey, has everything you know and love about the show. There's the dramas of polite society upstairs, while downstairs is just as hilarious and chaotic as ever.

The plot of the film sees the residents of Downton Abbey scrambling to prepare for the impending arrival of the King and Queen, who are to stay the night as part of a royal tour of Yorkshire.

Joining the royals on their tour will be an ostracised cousin of the Crawley family, Lady Bagshaw, who the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith, just as bitingly witty as ever - a true highlight of the film) believes intends to leave her family home to her maid instead of Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), her closest living relative.

Back in action: Laura Carmichael, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery as Edith, Cora and Mary in the Downton Abbey movie, rated PG, in cinemas now.

Back in action: Laura Carmichael, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery as Edith, Cora and Mary in the Downton Abbey movie, rated PG, in cinemas now.

This, of course, will not do, so Violet sets about scheming to prevent such a travesty.

Meanwhile, the service staff have been told that the royal visitors will be bringing their own staff instead of relying on the - really quite excited - members of the Downton crew.

As far as fascinating plots go, Downton Abbey doesn't provide the most riveting of stories.

But the audience has not signed up for story - they've signed up to see more of their beloved characters, and that's just what the film provides.

Anyone who hasn't seen the show before catching the movie will probably be bored to tears - if you don't know any of the history of the characters you will be terribly confused as to how anyone relates to anyone else and why you should care about their minor dramas - but those who have been dedicated fans will love catching up with old friends.

However, fans of Matthew Goode shouldn't get too excited - his character Henry Talbot is away for most of the film and only appears at the end, despite his prominent billing.

Rating: 6.5/10