Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 11:58 UK

Gosford writer to pen ITV drama

Julian Fellowes
Julian Fellowes won an Oscar in 2002

Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes, best known for scripting Gosford Park and The Young Victoria, will pen a new period drama for ITV1.

Set in 1912, Downton Abbey will portray the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them.

"It is no secret that I am fascinated by the extraordinary variety of people that occupied the great country houses," Fellowes said.

Director of ITV Drama Laura Mackie said she was "delighted" to enlist Fellowes.

The series will open with a 90-minute episode followed by six-hour-long episodes.

"Television drama often relies on a structure that will involve characters of different backgrounds," said Fellowes.

"Any hospital soap opera or detective series can give you that, but there is no narrative base that can provide members of every level of society, sleeping under a single roof, more believably than a great house before the First [World] War."

In 2002 Fellowes won the best screenwriting Academy Award for Gosford Park.

The Robert Altman film, starring Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon and Kristin Scott Thomas, was a complex whodunnit set during a shooting party at a stately home.

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