There's more for the Abbey yet! Downton is renewed for a fourth series… but it's unclear which stars will also be returning
22:03 GMT, 23 November 2012
Downton Abbey will return for a fourth series but ITV has refused to confirm if key stars such as Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery will be in the show.
Both are confirmed to be in the Christmas special but executives said “negotiations are on-going” over whether they will feature in the main series next year.
Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, has been circumspect about committing to another run because of the time commitments involved.
More to come! It has been confirmed that a fourth series of Downton Abbey has now been commissioned
Series four will film between February and July next year and it is understood the main actors have until early January to confirm they will return.
There have been question marks too over whether Dame Maggie Smith will return the waspish Dowager Countess.
Creator Julian Fellowes said there would always be a place for Dame Maggie in the show and insisted he would not “kill her off” even if she chose to leave.
Returning Despite the period drama being renewed, it is unclear whether Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery will be back as Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary
The fans will be pleased: On Friday it was revealed that the show will be returning for its fourth season
A show insider said: ‘Julian hasn’t started writing series four yet so there is time to work out how the story will go and who will be in it.
Stevens, 30, already has American management and has moved New York to star in Broadway play The Heiress.
The man behind it: Writer and producer Julian Fellowes will also no doubt be pleased
He has made a Hollywood film with Alicia Silverstone which premieres later this year.
He said in a recent interview:‘New York for me is going to be one big adventure. I will be taking the whole family out and we will be there for six months.‘I don’t know if I will be returning to Downton.’
Similarly, Michelle Dockery has made waves in the US with her polished performance as Lady Mary.
The 30-year-old said earlier this year: 'It certainly feels as though there are more opportunities for us over there. I love spending time in the US.
An eight episode series will broadcast next autumn, followed by a Christmas special in 2013.
The opening and closing episodes will again be feature length with series four continuing the story of the Crawley family and their servants in the early 1920s.
Executive producer Gareth Neame, said: ‘Viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance.’
There will be a two hour special this year at 9pm on Christmas Day in which Lord and Lady Grantham will visit their Scottish cousins at Duneagle Castle, accompanied by servants John Bates, his wife Anna, and O’Brien.
This is the home of Lady Rose, played by newcomer Lily James, who was sent home in the last episode of series three after her dalliance with a married man.
There is a suggestion of new romance for Lady Edith and even cook Mrs Patmore, and more arguments for Matthew and Mary Crawley.
There will also be a new housemaid – Edna – played by MyAnna Buring.
Will they be in the fourth series The third season ended earlier this month on a high and has now been commissioned for more drama
Neame added: ‘While the cat’s away, the mice will play. The Grantham’s do not live at Downton Abbey, twelve months of the year. They would go to London for the summer season and also go away on holidays like this.
‘And when that happens the domestic staff of Downton would remain. What will they get up to while the family is away’