According to ITV, the fourth season will consist of eight episodes and an extended Christmas special, set to begin airing in the Fall of 2013 in the UK. The third season has just recently wrapped up.
"Viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance," executive producer Gareth Neame said in a statement released just today.
Written and created by Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey, Season 3 is a Carnival Films and Masterpiece coproduction, in association with NBCUniversal, and set to return to American audiences on Jan. 6 on PBS. The series won an impressive six Primetime Emmy® Awards and a Golden Globe® in its first season. Recent honors for Season 2 include multi-category nominations from the Critics' Choice Awards and from the Television Critics Association.
The returning cast includes Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle and a host of others, joined by Shirley MacLaine (Oscar® for Best Actress, Terms of Endearment), who plays Martha Levinson, the very American mother of Cora, Countess of Grantham (McGovern).