Shirley MacLaine joins the cast of "Downton Abbey"

DEAUVILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 04: Shirley MacLaine arrives at 'The Turning Point' Premiere during the 37th Deauville Film Festival on September 4, 2011 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images) Francois Durand

Shirley MacLaine arrives at "The Turning Point" premiere during the 37th Deauville Film Festival on Sept. 4, 2011, in Deauville, France.
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(CBS) The Dowager Countess better hold onto her cane and have some quips prepared - a new face is coming to "Downton Abbey."

Shirley MacLaine will join the cast for the British hit's third season when it begins filming next month, it was announced Monday. The 77-year-old actress will play Martha Levinson, the mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).

Gareth Neame of Carnival Films, which produces the show, said in a statement that MacLaine's character will be "a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess."

Laura Mackie, Director of Drama at ITV (which airs the series in the U.K.), added, "It is so exciting to have an actress of Shirley MacLaine's stature joining our brilliant 'Downton Abbey' cast for series three and a tribute to the show's success on both sides of the Atlantic."

"Downton Abbey" won the Golden Globe earlier this month for best miniseries, and took the same category at the Emmy's last September. The show's second season, which already aired in the U.K., is currently being broadcast on PBS.

  • Jessica Derschowitz

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