‘Downton Abbey’ Season 4 to premiere on PBS

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If you’re already a fan or simply want to find out what all the hype is about,  Season 4 of PBS’s Downton Abbey will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. Eastern. The season already aired in the UK on ITV, concluding on Dec. 25, hence there are plenty of spoilers out there if you want them. Season 4 is made up of 8 episodes airing weekly with the finale scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014.

In Season 4, Shirley MacLaine returns as Martha Levinson along with several new actors including Tom Cullen, Nigel Harman, Dame Harriet Walter, Joanna David, Julian Ovendon, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Gary Carr.

Actors returning to the series include Hugh Bonneville (as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham), Elizabeth McGovern (as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham), and Maggie Smith (as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham) among the large cast.

Season 4 will include new locations set in Central London where night clubs, streets with gas lamps, and other spots provide authenticity to the show. The producers say the season is full of lots of music, parties, and period set pieces.

The series, from creator and writer Julian Fellowes, first aired in the US in 2011 and is now in its fourth season on PBS as part of the network’s Masterpiece Classic productions. Downton Abbey is the highest-rated drama in PBS history, with over 8 million viewers tuning into the finale of Season 3.

The series is broadcast in 1080i (HDTV) and is available on most satellite, fiber-optic, and cable TV systems.

You can check out a scene from Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 1 on PBS’s dedicated Masterpiece webpage. Starting this week, each episode in its entirety will stream from the website the day after national broadcast.

British network ITV and PBS officially announced Downton Abbey would return in 2015 for a fifth season.

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