ITV1 period drama ‘Downton Abbey‘ has welcomed five new cast members including ‘The Tudors‘ star Maria Doyle Kennedy for its second season.

Downton Abbey‘ has added five new cast members for season two.

The first series of the ITV1 period drama – which documented the running of a huge country mansion in the early 20th century – was such a success it has been re-commissioned, with Zoe Boyle, Cal Macaninch, Iain Glen, Amy Nuttall and Maria Doyle Kennedy joining the current cast when filming starts this spring.

Maria Doyle Kennedy -best known for her role as Queen Katherine of Aragon in ‘The Tudors‘ – will play Vera Bates, the wife of John Bates (Brendan Coyle), while ‘Spooks‘ Iain Glen joins as Sir Richard Carlisle.

Former ‘Emmerdale‘ beauty Amy Nuttall will play new housemaid Ethel, with ‘Wild at Heart‘ actor Cal Macaninch taking on the role of new valet Lang. Zoe Boyle will portray Miss Lavinia Swire.

As well as filming an eight-part second series, ‘Downton Abbey‘ will also return for a Christmas special in 2011, which will continue where series two ends.

The drama – starring Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Penelope Wilton and written by Julian Fellowes – recently premiered in the US.

It has been the most expensive drama ever filmed in the UK, with an hour of shooting estimated to have cost £1 million.