20/12/2011 04:46 GMT | Updated 20/12/2011 05:08 GMT

Downton Abbey Christmas Special Behind The Scenes (PHOTOS)

"Collectively, we are starting to feel it's our best yet, so it's great, we're very happy about it," Brendan Coyle, the warm, but troubled, Mr Bates, said at a special preview screening of the highly-anticipated Downton Abbey Christmas special last week.

The two-hour televisual treat, scheduled for 9pm on Christmas Day, sees the various storylines of Series Two come to a head in an almighty festive special, oozing with the perfect blend of suspense, angst, sorrow, frivolity and happiness.

It deserves its primetime Christmas showing.

And the makers of Julian Fellowes' hit period drama have now released behind the scenes photos from the making of the episode to give you a sneak peek of what's to come. Check out the photos below.

READ: Downton Abbey Series Three: romances won't be sexed up

PHOTOS: See more photos from the Christmas special and find out why the stars have to keep their passions in check.