The return of "Downton Abbey" to American televisions is a month away (Jan. 5, not that we're counting the days). But fans can get just the teeniest early peek into the rarefied world of the Granthams — with a movie-star twist — by watching a very short new clip featuring none other than George Clooney.
Britain's ITV network released the terrifically tiny video to promote the upcoming charity special, "Text Santa," which uses various British television personalities to encourage viewers to make donations. Six U.K. charities benefit from the campaign.
In the clip, the American-born Countess of Grantham speaks to an at-first-unseen man, and appears to be addressing her husband, Lord Grantham. Until the man turns, of course, and reveals himself to be George Burnett, the handyman from "Facts of Life" — or maybe Dr. Doug Ross from Chicago's County General Hospital — or maybe just Clooney himself.
As is par for the course with Clooney, he manages to drip with debonair charm, though he doesn't utter a syllable, and even though he's clutching an umbrella drink. Grantham niece Rose lucks into the pleasure of some Clooney company too.
Clooney won't be on an actual episode of the popular drama, but will have a part in a sketch that will air in Britain on Dec. 19 as part of the "Text Santa" fundraiser. (We Yanks are hoping ITV will post the full sketch online shortly afterwards.)
Earlier reports claimed Clooney would play an American guest attending a wedding at the Crawley's estate.
ITV also tweeted a photo of Clooney on set with actor Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham. Bonneville can be seen as Mr. Brown, Paddington Bear's hapless human adoptive father, in "Paddington," which is already showing in British theaters and will open in the U.S. on Jan. 16.
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