Downton Abbey will return to PBS on Sunday, Jan. 5, the network announced Tuesday. The period drama will run for eight straight weeks, with Season 4 concluding on Feb. 23.
"Masterpiece fans will not be disappointed: Julian [Fellowes] has done another brilliant job, this time, portraying the Downton family moving on from the tragedies of last season," Masterpiece Classic executive producer Rebecca Eaton told The Daily Beast.
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The tragedies Eaton referenced include the deaths of both Downton's heir Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens
) and the family's youngest daughter Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay
). Siobhan Finneran
, who played the scheming maid O'Brien, will also not return for Season 4.
The series is making up for these losses by adding a slew of new cast members, including Tom Cullen as a new love interest for Mary (Michelle Dockery
); Dame Harriet Walter
as Lady Shackleton, an old friend of the Dowager Countess; Nigel Harman
as a visiting valet Green; Julian Ovenden
as aristocrat Charles Blake; Joanna David
as the Duchess of Yeovil; and Gary Carr
as Downton's first black character
, a young jazz singer. Shirley MacLaine
will also reprise her role as Martha Levinson, Lady Crawley's fiercely American mother.
Are you excited for more Downton