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Season 4 of 'Downton Abbey' will air in January

The Associated Press, Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 8:27am (PDT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- PBS says the fourth season of "Downton Abbey" will begin in January and run for eight weeks.

The series is the highest-rated drama in public TV's history.

The costume drama about the family and servants in a stately English home stars Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery.

Bing: 'Downton' adds first black character

Shirley MacLaine will return for the fourth season, joined by newcomers including opera star Kiri Te Kanawa. They'll have to fill the void left by leading man Dan Stevens' departure: His character, Matthew, died in a car crash in last February's third season finale.

The new season of "Downton Abbey" will air from Jan. 5 to Feb. 23.

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