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Downton Abbey to return for fifth season on US TV

Downton Abbey will be back for its fifth season on January 4, US broadcaster PBS said - but the return date for another hit British series Sherlock is up in the air.

Downton Abbey to return to US TV
Downton Abbey to return to US TV Credit: ITV

PBS chief executive Paula Kerger said of the show starring Benedict Cumberbath: "We will have to wait to know when it's finished and available."

All episodes of Ken Burns' The Roosevelts, for instance, will be available for streaming the day after the first episode airs on September 14. "Downton Abbey will have some surprises in it. I think you know what's going to happen to the Roosevelts," said Ms Kerger.

PM gives Downton Abbey script to China's premier

'Downton Abbey' photo call
Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt, Michelle Dockery, Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth MacGovern and Brendan Coyle 'Downton Abbey' photo call Credit: Tammie Arroyo/EMPICS Entertainment

David Cameron gave Chinese premier Li Keqiang a special memento of his trip to the UK - a copy of the shooting script for the first episode of Downton Abbey signed by the hit show's creator.

The period drama, which has been a big hit in China, was written by Julian Fellowes, who was made a Tory peer by Mr Cameron in 2010.

Mr Cameron also handed the premier a special £10 gold coin. The lunar coin was designed by artist Wuon-Gean Ho and celebrates the Chinese year of the horse. The final gift was a DVD box set of works by Charles Dickens.

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Downton Abbey star Dame Maggie Smith honoured

Downton Abbey's Oscar-winning star Dame Maggie Smith has been elevated to a Companion of Honour.

For TV viewers, the 79-year-old is now inextricably linked with her role as the Countess of Grantham in the ITV period drama, while Harry Potter fans will recognise her as Professor McGonagal.

Downton Abbey's star Dame Maggie Smith. Credit: Doug Peters/Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment

Her career stretches back to the 1950s, beginning at the Oxford Playhouse in 1952 and within four years appearing on Broadway.

Her stage performances have continually drawn acclaim and she has collected numerous awards for roles in plays such as Hedda Gabler, Three Sisters and Private Lives.

She earned the first of six Oscar nominations in 1965 for best supporting actress in Othello, going on to win best actress four years later for her commanding performance in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie. Dame Maggie won a further Oscar in 1978 with the supporting actress prize for California Suite.

Find out who else received an honour from the Queen here

Sue Johnston to join cast of new Downton Abbey series

Actress Sue Johnston, famous for her roles in The Royle Family and Coronation Street, is to join series five of Downton Abbey, it has been announced.

Johnston will take on a guest role in the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning drama as the character of Denker, Lady’s Maid to Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham.

Sue Johnston has starred in The Royle Family, Walking the Dead and Coronation Street. Credit: Empics

Johnston joins other guest actors on the show, including Richard E. Grant, Anna Chancellor and Rade Sherbedgia.

Downton Abbey will return this autumn with a fifth series and again at Christmas with a special episode.

Richard E Grant to join cast of Downton Abbey

Withnail and I star Richard E Grant is joining the cast of ITV1's Downton Abbey, as Simon Bricker, a guest of the Grantham family.

Withnail and I star Richard E Grant is joining the cast of Downton Abbey. Credit: PA

His appearance in the hit period drama marks the actor's second collaboration with its creator Julian Fellowes - he previously starred in the writer's 2001 film Gosford Park, also alongside Maggie Smith, who plays Downton's formidable Dowager Countess of Grantham.

The cast of Downton Abbey Credit: ITV

Four Weddings and a Funeral star Anna Chancellor also joins the cast as Lady Anstruther, while 24 actor Rade Sherbedgia joins as a refugee, Kuragin, who has fled the Russian revolution after World War One.

The show's executive producer Gareth Neame said: "We are delighted to welcome these talented actors to the world of Downton. The characters they play are set to bring yet more excitement and intrigue to the show."

Read: Downton creator hints next series could be show's last

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Downton creator hints next series could be show's last

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has hinted that the next series of the hit show could be its last.

The ITV1 drama, telling the story of the aristocratic Crawley family, is set to return to television screens later this year for a fifth series, having made its debut in 2010.

Downton Abbey created Lord Fellowes says the show will not "go on forever". Credit: Press Association

But Lord Fellowes has now said in an interview that the saga will not "go on forever".

He has been commissioned to write a new American drama called The Gilded Age but told The Wall Street Journal that work on the programme would not start until Downton had come to an end.

Lord Fellowes said: "It's for NBC Universal and it will happen when Downton finishes because I just couldn't do both at once.

"I haven't written it yet, but it's about the old aristocracy, the Winthrops and the Stuyvesants and the new money of oil and gas and shipping in the 1870s. It will all be fiction - it won't be real people - but when those families descended on New York, they took over."

The writer, who is also an actor, reassured fans that there would be a fifth series of Downton but referring to a long-running US courtroom drama, added: "I don't know yet if there is a season six, but it's not going to go on forever. It won't be Perry Mason."

Downton goes head to head with EastEnders

Downton Abbey is to go head to head with EastEnders in the Christmas ratings battle.

The ITV period drama, which will be shown at 8.30pm on Christmas Day, will also be up against Mrs Brown's Boys on BBC 1, during the two-hour long episode.

Cast and crew of Downton Abbey collect the Best Drama award on stage during the 2012 NTA Awards. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive/Press Association Image

Downton, which is returning to ITV for a fifth series next year, has been sold to more than 220 territories and watched by an estimated 120 million people around the world since its debut in 2010.

Read more: Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti joins Downton Christmas cast

Giamatti joins Downton Abbey for Christmas special

Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti will be joining the cast of Downton Abbey for the Christmas Day special.

Paul Giamatti
Paul Giamatti, who gained international recognition for his role in 2004 comedy Sideways, will appear in Downton Abbey's Christmas special. Credit: PA

The American star, who was nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar for his role in boxing drama Cinderella Man, will play Lady Grantham's brother.

Not a lot has been given away about Giamatti's role in the ITV drama, but producers have let slip the Christmas Day episode will revolve around Lady Rose MacClare's (Lily James) entry into London's high society.

Click here for more Downton Abbey news

Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey's Christmas special will pick up six months after series four left off. Credit: PA

Shirley MacLaine returns as Lady Grantham's mother Martha and James Fox joins the cast as aristocrat Lord Aysgarth.

The two-hour episode of the award-winning ITV series, which will be shown at 8.30pm on Christmas Day, picks up the story six months on from the end of series four.

Watch Downton Abbey on ITV Player

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