Brace yourselves, "Downton Abbey" fans: "Downton Abbey" Season 4 won't premiere in the US for another year. Yes, it's the usual wait time for the new adventures of the Crawley family, even though the UK will get new eight episodes in the fall of 2013.
In December, PBS was considering airing "Downton" in the US closer to when it airs in the UK. “The audiences for 'Downton' have been terrific,” senior VP and PBS’ chief programming executive John Wilson told THR. “So you can’t say that [airing months earlier in the UK] has knocked the legs out from underneath 'Downton Abbey.' On the other hand, we can’t know how much more terrific it might have been had it aired closer to the UK premiere."
"Downton Abbey" Season 3 is currently airing in the US on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on PBS and it's been a ratings hit. The Season 3 premiere had 7.9 million viewers.
"Downton Abbey' continues to enthrall audiences nationwide, and this season is especially riveting with the addition of Shirley MacLaine to the cast and the lively interaction between her and Maggie Smith,” PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement after the Season 3 premiere. “I'm so pleased that audiences have returned to 'Downton Abbey' on their local stations to continue to enjoy some of the best drama on television."
When "Downton" Season 4 premieres, the cast list will look a little different than it does now. Dan Stevens, known as Matthew Crawley to swooning "Downton Abbey" viewers, will not return for new episodes. However, Maggie Smith will reprise her role as the Dowager Countess. Her fate on the series had been up in the air.
“We were always optioned for three years,” Stevens told "The Telegraph." “And when that came up it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things."