The writer of ITV's period drama series Downton Abbey is planning a prequel that explains how the Earl and Countess of Grantham first met, reports The Telegraph.

"I do actually have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship of Robert and Cora, when all those American heiresses were arriving in London - the Buccaneers, as they were called," explained Julian Fellowes. Downton has become a remarkable success in the U.K, constantly performing well in the viewing figures table, and being placed in The Guardian's top 10 TV programmes of 2010. Fellowes said the drama would be shown when the full show draws to a close. "I don't think you can continue a narrative in more than one area at once," he explained. "I never really liked those Coronation Street Christmas specials where they all go to Haiti, and you don't have to watch it. Somehow it doesn't feel very organic." Despite its success, some of its leading stars, including Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery, are expected to leave at the end of this series in pursuit of Hollywood stardom. Downton Abbey season 3 returned to ITV1 on Sunday, 16 September and it will air in the United States beginning 6 January 2013. The next episode will be this Sunday (September 30th).

Asked whether he wished he'd stumbled across Downton earlier in his life, Fellowes gave a humorous response: "People say to me, 'Wouldn't you rather this had all happened when you were 30?' Well, the short answer to that is yes, but the long answer is that by the time you're 50 you've made a fool of yourself so many times that the thought you might make a fool of yourself is no longer a deterrent. So you just cheerfully take it on board and have a crack."