While this news isn’t terribly surprising – Series 3 scored Downton’s highest ratings to date in the UK, and both Series 1 and 2 have done extremely well in America – it’s still nice to have official confirmation of the series renewal only three weeks after the UK finale aired and six weeks prior to its premiere in America.
Filming is expected to begin at Highclere Castle and Ealing Studios in early 2013 (likely February), with the new episodes slated to be broadcast on ITV next Fall. The new season will once again be comprised of eight episodes, with an extended Christmas special in 2013. The opening and closing episodes of Series 4 will also once again be feature-length and the saga of the Crawley clan will continue on into the early 1920s.
Executive producer Gareth Neame said "Viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance” in Series 4.
Laura Mackie, Director of Drama at ITV, added, "We're thrilled to welcome back a drama series that has become a much anticipated part of all our lives every autumn and achieved success across the globe.”
So say we all, it would seem! (There’s more commentary from the producers to be found in the official press release, but it’s got major, major Series 3 spoilers in it, so tread with extreme caution.)
Downton Abbey Series 3 premieres January 6 here in the US. If you need a Crawley fix in the meantime, a special recap/preview special – Downton Abbey Revisited – will air this Sunday night on PBS stations nationwide.