ITV Commissions a fourth series of ‘Downton Abbey’

Crawley’s to return in a fourth ‘Downton Abbey’ series

ITV has announced the recommission of a fourth series of popular Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning period drama, ‘Downton Abbey‘ after securing an average rating of 11.9 million viewers for series 3 which aired in over 200 countries.

The series begins filming eight new episodes in February 2013 for autumn 2013 transmission – plus an extended special Christmas episode. Filming will take place at Highclere Castle and Ealing Studios, and continue to focus on the Crawley family and their servants in the early 1920s.

The series opening and closing will again be feature-length episodes with character old and new returning.

Gareth Neame, Managing Director of Carnival Films, and Executive Producer of Downton Abbey said:  “Viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance.”

“Creator, writer and executive producer Julian Fellowes and the production team, led by Gareth and the producer Liz Trubridge, never rest on their laurels and have exciting plans for the fourth series.”

“Downton has a whole life beyond the episodes themselves. It has leapt out of the television set and become part of both the national and global conversation,” explained Gareth.

“It is now part of culture and society and that’s a very different experience for all of us involved in making the show.”

Both Gareth and Laura praised the “genius” of astute observer and master storyteller Julian Fellowes, who writes all the episodes.

“Not only is he a superb craftsman, he also has an extraordinary work ethic. It is a mammoth undertaking to write all those episodes,” said Gareth.

“The main credit for the success of Downton is by far and away down to Julian. I’ve not had the fortune to work with anyone else who combines so many talents.”

It is no secret that Julian is a lifelong fan of the Rovers Return regulars.

“He has learned an awful lot as a viewer of Coronation Street and has an extraordinary sense of serial drama writing,” explained Gareth.

“Julian knows that you want a core group of characters who almost become an extension of your family. But you also need new blood coming in to shake things up a bit.”

Laura Mackie Director of Drama at ITV, used the example of the seamless introduction of new characters, scullery maid Ivy (Cara Theobold), and Alfred (Matt Milne) as Jimmy.

“That is one of the reasons why we always feel confident about the future of Downton Abbey,” she said.

“We’re always very pleased with the audience reaction to the series,” said Laura. “From the very first series Julian created an ensemble of memorable characters. Of course there are some you may like more than others but they’re all incredibly well drawn.

“He knows them all so well and is able to quickly integrate new characters into the drama so you feel as if they have always been there. That’s a real gift.

“Julian, Gareth and the production team manage to keep the absolute essence of what people liked in the first place and yet they almost treat every series as though it’s a new drama.

“So each series feels fresh and yet it always delivers those things you love. As we move through the different eras there’s always more to enjoy.”

Added Laura: “Julian has also always had that ability to write a balance of the big story and the tiny little details. So in series three, for example, we saw a jazz club for the first time as part of Rose’s story – and also cocktails being served at Downton.”

With the announcement of a fourth series, Laura said there is plenty for the Downton audience to look forward to.

Gareth agreed: “Everyone who works to bring Downton Abbey to the screen is incredibly proud of the show and want to cherish it.

“We’re in rude health and have a long way still to go – starting with a not to be missed and truly memorable Christmas Day episode.”

‘Downton Abbey‘ returns for a two-hour special of laughter and tears on ITV1, Christmas Day at 9pm, and for a fourth series Autumn 2013.