Downton Abbey to return to ITV for a fourth series

Downton Abbey will return for a fourth series on ITV. The channel had kept its audience of almost 12 million waiting longer than usual to confirm a further run.

The eight-part run next year will again open and close with feature-length episodes Credit: ITV

Bosses are also warning viewers to have their "tissues ready" for the show's Christmas tearjerker.

This year's two-hour festive episode sees the family head to a Scottish estate to visit cousins, against a backdrop of deer stalking and shooting in the Highlands. ITV's director of drama Laura Mackie said:

"As ever, Downton will take its audience through a whole range of emotions. All of life's experiences will feature in this episode. This is one episode you will want to see live with millions of others - and best have the tissues ready."