It’s been just over eight years since the last series of Downton Abbey aired on ITV, which began in 2010.

But fans may not have long to wait to see the lives of the aristocratic Yorkshire Crawley family on TV screens once more as it’s been reported a new “secret” seventh series has begun filming.

It’s thought producers are hoping to bring back some huge names for the return of the show, including Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern and Joanne Froggatt, according to the Daily Mail.

Although the casting is yet to be confirmed, the four stars appeared in the previous six seasons and two film spin-offs and bosses are said to be “thrilled” with the choices.

Will there be a series 7 of Downton Abbey?

The previous six series of Downton Abbey were filmed at Hampshire's Highclere Castle and were based on world events in the post-Edwardian era between 1912 and 1926.

Meanwhile, the two spin-off films were based on 1927 to 1928 and were released in 2019 and 2022.

The seventh series is expected to air at the end of this year on ITV, the Daily Mail reports.

A source told the publisher: "Filming has been going on for a few weeks now, it is all very, very secret. There are people working on it who have never seen secrecy like it.

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“Those working on the set have been made to sign non-disclosure agreements so that they don't give the game away but there is a lot of excitement at the return of Downton.

“It was such a huge success before and there are so many more stories to be told, it seemed such a shame not to be able to make more of it but they've made it happen.”

All previous episodes of Downton Abbey are available to watch on ITVX.