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'Downton Abbey' Renewed for Fourth Season; Boosts Dockery and Stevens Film Careers

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood November 23, 2012 at 3:20PM

Before American audiences have seen even one episode of the much-anticipated "Downton Abbey" Season 3 (finally premiering on PBS on January 6), news comes that the successful show has been renewed for a fourth season on Britain's ITV. Season 3, which recently aired its finale in the UK, averaged a series ratings high there with 9.7 million viewers.
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Downton Abbey

Before American audiences have seen even one episode of the much-anticipated "Downton Abbey" Season 3 (finally premiering on PBS on January 6), news comes that the successful show has been renewed for a fourth season on Britain's ITV. Season 3, which recently aired its finale in the UK, averaged a series ratings high there with 9.7 million viewers.

This average includes delayed viewing from the same date of airing (for example: DVR). Season 1 averaged 8.4 million viewers, and Season 2 averaged 9.5 million.

Reportedly the fourth season will be set in the early 1920s, and will return to ITV in fall of 2013. Filming will begin in February.

Season 3 introduces Shirley MacLaine as Lady Cora's tacky American mother who comes to stay with the Crawleys.

"Downton Abbey" has been a good big-screen jumping-off point for romantic leads Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens (Lady Mary Crawley and Matthew Crawley, respectively). Dockery boasts a small role in Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" and can also be seen in 2013's "Non-Stop," an airbound thriller starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore.

Stevens stars opposite Dominic Cooper and Emily Browning in the upcoming "Summer in February," a drama set in an Edwardian artists' colony. He's also had Broadway success, starring onstage with Jessica Chastain in "The Heiress." (Check out the Charlie Rose interview on "The Heiress" with Chastain, Stevens and David Strathairn here.)

Meanwhile, Maggie Smith is in the running in a couple of different Oscar categories -- Best Actress for Dustin Hoffman's "Quartet" and Best Supporting Actress for "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." MacLaine could be an outside contender for Richard Linklater's "Bernie."

This article is related to: Downton Abbey, News, TV News, Bernie, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Quartet


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.