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'Downton Abbey' scores its highest U.K. premiere numbers


And so the temptation to look at online spoilers begins. Downton Abbey‘s fourth season debuted in Britain Sunday night and averaged 9.5 million viewers, according to ITV. That’s a huge 39.7 percent share, The Guardian reports, nearly twice the percentage of American audiences that typically tune in to watch the U.S.’s top program, NBC’s Sunday night NFL game.

The season 4 premiere was up half a million from the 9 million viewers who tuned in for the start of season 2 and season 3. The series premiere averaged 7.7 million in 2010.

Season 4 debuts Jan. 5 in the U.S. on PBS.

'Downton Abbey': Lady Mary calls her son a 'poor orphan'

When Downton Abbey returns, a grieving Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) finds herself uninterested in her son George — or wearing anything that isn’t black — despite Anna’s (Joanna Froggatt) attempts to cheer her mistress up. Watch the short clip below.


Dan Stevens set to voice iconic 'Tomorrow People' character -- EXCLUSIVE

The Tomorrow People‘s artificially intelligent mentor now has a famous voice behind it.

EW has learned exclusively that Downton Abbey alum Dan Stevens will lend his voice to the Greg Berlanti-produced Tomorrow People, voicing biological computer TIM, a character first established in the ’70s British version of the show and originally voiced by Canadian actor Philip Gilbert.

Romance, careers, and moving on at 'Downton Abbey': 10 things we learned about season four

It’s 1922 and all is not well at Downton Abbey. But how could it be? Still reeling from the loss of a few significant characters, season four picks up months after that fateful car wreck to find a house in mourning.

After airing a season four promo and some character specific clips, executive producer Gareth Neame took the stage at TCA alongside Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley), Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith Crawley), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Joanne Froggatt (Anna), and Sophie McShera (Daisy) to tease season four and beyond. The notoriously tight-lipped cast didn’t give too much away, but we were able to glean a few key takeaways about what is in store for both the upstairs and downstairs crew in this time of transition.


PBS exec: 'Downton Abbey' will continue to air with delay in America; but will 'Sherlock'?

PBS president Paula Kerger today defended the often bemoaned American broadcast delay of Downton Abbey, which in past seasons has completed its run in the U.K. before premiering in the U.S, saying the network is hesitant to change a method that has worked well for them so far.

“I think as we have looked at this whole issue of spoilers and thought about how best to steward the property and also think about the viewership, we considered a number of factors in the scheduling of Downton,” she said during a panel at the Television Critics Association press tour, which concludes this week in Los Angeles. Those include, she said, attempting to avoid clashing with the slew of network premieres in the fall and harnessing the opportunities for word-of-mouth promotion. “The fact that word-of-mouth travels after it airs in the U.K. has actually benefited us … we kind of don’t want to mess with that if it’s working so well.”

That said, she admitted, “I will say to you … I think that as we look at scheduling programs that we are acquiring, particularly dramas, what I just described to you is not a hard and fast rule. … We’ll continue to look at each program as it comes up and then try to figure out if it makes sense to try to bring it very close to the broadcast window where it is seen everywhere else or does it make sense to schedule it at a different point and time.”

'Grimm,' 'Criminal Minds,' 'Teen Wolf,' 'Downton Abbey': Find out what's next in the Spoiler Room

Happy early Fourth of July, friends.

It’s that time of the week again! But before you dive in, a reminder to keep sending in those questions. ( Also, watch my Twitter for some fun announcements about a few Comic-Con panels I’ll be moderating this year and for more on EW’s overall plans for the four-day festival of frantic fun.  READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey:' Paul Giamatti joins season 4 as American playboy

Downton Abbey is getting another American visitor.

Sideways‘ star Paul Giamatti will appear as Cora’s playboy brother, Harold, in the season four finale, a rep for MASTERPIECE on PBS confirms.

He’ll be joined by returning guest-star Shirley MacLaine, who crossed the pond to play Cora’s brazen mother, Martha Levinson, in season three. READ FULL STORY

Season 4 of 'Downton Abbey' will premiere on...

Downton Abbey has an official return date: Season 4 of the period drama will premiere on Jan. 5, 2014. The series will then run for eight straight weeks, until Feb. 23.

Season 3 broke ratings records for PBS, becoming its highest-rated drama in history. Next season will air in Britain in the fall before coming to America, and will include the return of Shirley MacLaine as the moneyed and less-mannered Martha Levinson, as well as several new faces such as Tom Cullen, Joanna David, and Gary Carr (playing the show’s first black character), among others.


'Downton Abbey' casts first black cast member

Downton Abbey has just announced its newest resident.

British actor Gary Carr is joining the series in season four as jazz singer Jack Ross, a rep for MASTERPIECE on PBS confirms to EW. Carr, whose character is described as “charming and charismatic,” will be the series’ first black cast member. READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey' star Michelle Dockery to guest on 'Family Guy' -- EXCLUSIVE

Every time that Peter Griffin has burped, farted, or otherwise acted boorishly on Family Guy is about to be evened out with one classy casting move: Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery will lend her voice to the animated Fox comedy. READ FULL STORY

Martha Stewart on new PBS series, her binge-watch picks, and returning to reality TV

Somewhere between tweeting, blogging, and bringing her instructional series Martha Bakes and Martha’s Cooking School to PBS (check local listings), Martha Stewart has managed to squeeze in a few more passions. Namely, marathon viewings of Homeland and Ryan Gosling.

But what elevates the domestic goddess’s binge-watching from that of your everyday entertainment junkie is her method: “I have a big TV in my kitchen, so I can do canning or make jam. That takes hours and hours, and I can watch Homeland, all 13 episodes [at once].” READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey' breaks ratings records

Downton Abbey just broke another record.

The third season of the series ranked as PBS’ highest-rated drama ever, with an average of 11.5 million viewers tuning in over the course of seven episodes. For those keeping count, that’s up more than 60 percent from season 2.

To top it off, the third season finale, which aired on Feb. 17, attracted about 12.3 million viewers, beating all broadcast and cable competition airings in the time-slot, and, we presume, breaking just as many hearts along the way.

Read More:
‘Downton Abbey’ exec producer on why [Spoiler!] had to die
‘Downton Abbey’ premiere nearly doubles ratings
‘Downton Abbey’: Dan Stevens’ fate confirmed

'Downton Abbey:' British actor Tom Cullen to court [Spoiler!]

Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) may be in mourning when Downton Abbey returns (see the first official photo from the fourth season above), but she won’t be lonely for long.

British actor Tom Cullen has been cast to play Lord Gillingham, an old family friend of the Crawleys who has known Lady Mary since childhood. Per TV Line, the character is being brought on as a suitor for Mary. (See what exec producer Gareth Neame told EW about what’s ahead for Mary here).

He won’t be the only fresh face at Downton next season though. As previously reported, in addition to Shirley MacLaine, who will be returning to reprise her role as Cora’s American mom, a number of new characters are joining the series. Considering the number of recent exits, they certainly won’t have trouble finding rooms to fill.

Are you excited to see Gillingham romance Lady Mary? How do you feel about the slew of new characters joining Downton?

Follow @NuzhatNaoreen on Twitter.

Shirley MacLaine to return to ‘Downton Abbey’ next season, new characters announced
‘Downton Abbey:’ Another actor to exit the series
Julian Fellowes may leave ‘Downton’ if his NBC drama gets picked up


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