It was fourteen years ago that a certain film crew first rolled up to Highclere. They all tended to wear thick black jackets, dark jeans and practical trainers and boots. Opening lots of castle windows to run in thick black cables, closing doors and calling for silence “rolling”, they complain how cold it is but, despite such privations, they are here once more, not for a series but for another film.

There are so many important questions to contemplate – which of your favourite characters will be back? What style of clothes do you think Lady Mary be will wearing? Hopefully Cora and Robert Grantham will be united in continued strength again and, Mrs Patmore will be busy cooking, but for what occasion? What life choices will Thomas make? That part of the story in the second film that was left to lure us onwards: will the glamour of Hollywood entice? How will the story of Bates and Anna develop?

From Highclere’s point of view, we have been very busy with rounds of recces, now followed by the arrival of white vans, large unit base trailers, lots of black out material as well as corex and boards to protect the floors.

The old labradors have already remembered the form with delight: catering trucks which make lots of delicious snacks, just the sort of things they love for breakfast and for lunch. But there is even more: trestle tables with biscuits and sandwiches around tea time. Alfie is quite often missing and usually deaf to all calls, found by catching sight of the end of his tail under a table. So much to look forward to and they will undoubtedly show the puppies the way.

Geordie was up early this morning to let the Downton team in to set up and, is hoping for an absence of palm trees which used to catch him with their sharp fronds as he was struggling with a Castle shutter. John the Castle manager has been walking round even more than usual whilst Luis and I prefer the later shifts as we take a more relaxed approach to morning schedules. The excellent coffee caterer here during the last film has arrived back this morning, so I am happy.

Whichever part the various members of the crew play in creating a film, the days are long with cast in hair and makeup from the early hours and lighting and cameras put in place before any rehearsals for the first scene take place from about 8.30am.

There is always a plan in advance for each day for which rooms they are in, how it is going to work that day, where all the directors and computer screens are, where the green room is and so on.

Each day is both very busy and very still. Everyone rushes around and then you hear shouts of “silence” when everything stops and a scene is rehearsed, fine-tuned until finally ready to shoot……. for the first take.

As well as filming inside, some days – weather willing – will hopefully be spent outside around the lawns, on the paths and around the park.

I still find it fascinating, turning short typed lines on a small piece of white thumbed paper into three dimensional characters with energy and lives shared on screens large and small. It is a huge team effort beginning with the writer, Julian Fellowes, to endless production and budgeting teams, then teams on the ground and finally the cast. It is a leap of imagination and faith and all of it irresistible.

In this fragile world I hope that Downton Abbey offers all of us a world apart and time out. Thank you to all the teams who make it possible.