Shirley MacLaine starts her next life on the “Downton Abbey” set

What specialists are calling DAWS — Downton Abbey Withdrawal Syndrome — is getting worse by the week, with no relief in sight. I have it on good authority, in fact, that bloggers Heather Hogan and Dorothy Snarker are in training to swim the Atlantic hoping to catch a glimpse of the Grantham sisters while Series 3 filming is in progress.

Fortunately, friends in hidden places across the pond have managed to sneak a few snapshots of the set to the media, including a link to our first look at Cora Grantham’s mum Martha Levinson. We don’t need a sharp lens to recognize Shirley MacLaine‘s wonderfully wilting glare.  

We also get a first look at Martha’s ladies’ maid Miss Reed (Lucille Sharp), who I feel safe in predicting will become a favorite of ours.

What happens when Martha visits Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) from New York is unknown, but we can be fairly certain that Dowager fur will fly when she comes face to face with Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith).

In addition to Sharp and MacLaine,  other new blood on the DA set includes Matt Milne (War Horse) as footman Alfred and Cara Theobald as Ivy, a kitchen maid.

We’ll bring you more from the Series 3 set as we get it, but meanwhile, check out the latest Downton Abbey spoof — a rap song. Adam WarRock, the person behind the beat, describes it as “the best rap song about an early 20th century period drama centered around property law you’ll ever hear.” I’m inclined to agree.

What do you think of the latest Downton Abbey news? And what’s your favorite line from the DA rap?