The Crawley's return to our telly screens is imminent. In fact, the promise of more soapy Sunday night period drama is getting us all excited. But what do we know about the upcoming series?
Quite a bit, actually. Read on to find out...
- Downton Abbey will be back on our TV screens on Sunday 22 September at 9:00pm. Woop!
- The fourth series will kick off six months after the untimely death of Matthew in the Christmas special. We won't see the funeral or the immediate aftermath of his accident, although Mary hasn't moved on much in the months that have passed.
- Series four is "by and large" set in 1922, according to executive producer Gareth Neame. So expect a slower pace than previous seasons. "I think the energy and the rhythm of the show are exactly the same as it’s always been," Neame assures us, though.
- Lady Rose will be joining the show as a series regular, moving into the Abbey with Lord and Lady Grantham. The newbie was known for her flirty, troublesome behavior at the end of series three, so brace yourselves for some drama...
- That drama may have something to do with Lady Rose getting a potential love interest in the shape of Death in Paradise's Gary Carr. As the show's first black actor, he's playing a jazz musician. If sparks fly between the pair (and don't we all just hope they do), we're sure Violet will have something to say about it.
- When it comes to love interests, Downton is awash this coming season. Tom Branson seems to be moving on from Sybil in the trailer for the series, as he can be seen planting a big kiss on an unknown woman's mouth. Rumour has it his love interest will be played by newcomer Daisy Lewis.
- Another new face is ex-EastEnders star Nigel Harman. He played thief, murderer and general bad boy Dennis Rickman in the long-running soap and he told RadioTimes.com that his "incredibly charming" character in Downton is even worse than him and has absolutely NO redeeming characteristics, which sounds intriguing to say the least.
- And that might mean there is trouble brewing in Bates and Anna's marriage, too. Harman also told RadioTimes.com that most of his storylines include the couple, which can't be a good sign... After Bates was released from prison at the end of series three, fans of the pair hoped their lives might be a little easier in series four, but it doesn't look like that's meant to be. In fact, Brendan Coyle told us that "We see a darker and a more determined side to Bates than we’ve seen before in series four." Ooooh.
- Mary might be in mourning for her late husband, but that's not to say she won't have any love interests herself. "Mary’s not really open to moving on from Matthew at all, [but] that doesn’t mean that there isn’t interest from other men in her..." said producer Gareth Neame at the series launch.
- And those bringing potential romance? Well, Tom Cullen, who plays the rather dashing Lord Gillingham, and Julian Ovenden, who will star as aristocrat Charles Blake, look likely to try and warm Mary's heart.
- Dashing young men aren't the only newcomers to the set. Harriet Walter is set to play a sparring partner for Violet Crawley as Lady Shakleton; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and her wonderful voice are making an appearance at a grand party at some point in the next series; and Joanna David will play the Duchess of Yeovil.
- But let's not forget the characters we've lost. Along with Dan Stevens, Siobhan Finneran is another familiar face who will be missing from the fourth series, so no more shenanigans between O'Brien and Thomas. Boo hoo.
Watch the trailer for series four of our favourite drama:
Downton Abbey returns to ITV for series four this autumn