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'Downton Abbey' gets a fourth season

Posted by Matthew Gilbert  November 26, 2012 11:09 AM

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DanStevens.jpg

Whew. 

British channel ITV has announced that "Downton Abbey" has been renewed for a fourth season. The upstairs-downstairs show will begin filming again in February.

That's the good news. The not-so-good news? Season 4 may return without the regular presence of Dan Stevens (above), who plays Matthew Crawley. According to a number of British news sources, Stevens will probably only appear in the fourth season's first episode. He is currently on Broadway, costarring with Jessica Chastain in "The Heiress."

Meanwhile, the third season of "Downton" premieres in the U.S. on Sunday, Jan. 6. Most of it has already aired in the U.K., which means you need to be very careful of spoilers if you start fishing around online for stories about season 4 and Stevens' possible withdrawal. I stumbled across one spoiler in the lead of an article in the British press and it was a doozie. 


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