Emily Blunt's Mary Poppins pictured in front of Buckingham Palace

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Emily Blunt has been spotted as Mary Poppins in front of Buckingham Palace ahead of the return of the magical nanny in a new film

The award-winning actress was photographed on the set of the movie in central London riding a bicycle with co-star Lin-Manuel Miranda perched on the back.

Blunt, 34, will replace Julie Andrews in the title role in Mary Poppins Returns, the follow-up to the 1964 film. The new movie is due to be released on Christmas Day 2018.

The film - based on PL Travers' famous character - tells the story of an older Jane and Michael Banks, and Michael's three children, who are visited by Poppins after a "personal loss" in depression-hit London.

The photographs show Blunt wearing a dark blue coat and pink hat with Poppins' trademark patterned handbag, presumably full of peculiar over-sized delights.

Miranda, the creator and star of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, who plays street lamplighter Jack in the film, was wearing a dark brown suit with a low cap pulled over his face.

Extras sporting similar costumes were riding bikes close to the Victoria Memorial.

Dick Van Dyke, who starred as chimney sweep Burt in the original movie, has confirmed he will appear in the sequel.

The 91-year-old actor revealed he had agreed to join the cast of the new movie, which also stars Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury.

Earlier this year Disney released the first official photo of Blunt's Mary Poppins, which showed her on a leafy street, wearing a similar outfit.

The film's director is Rob Marshall, whose previous work includes Chicago and Into The Woods, while the script is being penned by Finding Neverland writer David Magee.