January 6, 2013 may seem like an eternity for Downton Abbey season 3 to premiere US but over in the UK, fans are gearing up for the season premiere next month, and ITV is beginning its promotion campaign. These promos center around the highly anticipated showdown between Dame Maggie Smith and Shirley MacLaine. Both are incredible actresses in their own right, both look fantastic in period costumes, and both of the 20-second teasers just released for season 3 will leave fans begging for more.

Forget that Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) is married and pregnant with the chauffer’s baby, or that Bates (Brendan Coyle) is in prison pining for his Anna (Joanne Froggatt), or that Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew (Dan Stevens) are planning a wedding – what Downton Abbey fans on both sides of the pond are looking forward to in this third series is the battle of the mother-in-laws. 

Obviously time and war have done nothing to soften the Dowager Countess’ acerbic wit and if she can bring polite dinner conversation to a screeching halt it’s anyone’s guess what will happen when the object of her ire appears. No one puts on proper British airs like Dame Maggie Smith and it should be interesting to see if this tiff causes a rift between she and Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) as well after all the progress they made these past two seasons.

If the first teaser (above) hints at the brilliance Smith brings to Downton, the second (below) highlights how bringing Shirley MacLaine on board as Martha Levinson as Cora’s mother can only make things that much better. Right off the bat it seems MacLaine gives as good as she gets, having no more qualms about offending her host than her host has toward her. It’s sure to be a battle of the wits all the way and one that will hook both British and American audiences. In this second clip it almost seems as if ITV is hinting that the Dowager Countess has the upper hand, so it will be interesting to see if the marketing approach is any different when it airs in the States.

Other Downton news that’s been released over in the UK includes the arrival of some financial hardships for the family upstairs, which will stir up trouble for the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and prolong the Mary/Matthew drama just a few klicks further. Fret not however, the wedding’s already been filmed. Meanwhile, with a downstairs sans William (Thomas Howes) and Bates four fresh faces will be joining the cast in the form of two new maids – Cara Theobold and Lucille Sharp – and two new footmen – Matt Milne and Ed Speleers.

This show has already established its fan base on both sides of the pond and with all of the new elements building on such a sturdy foundation it seems almost certain series three can do nothing less than thoroughly succeed.

Downton Abbey season 3 premieres January 6, 1213 on PBS.

Follow Heather on Twitter @thnx4thegum.

Source: E!