4th season of 'Downton Abbey' will air in January

4th season of 'Downton Abbey' will air in January

May 14th, 2013 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

In this image released by PBS, Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess Grantham, is shown in a scene from the second season on "Downton Abbey." The fourth season of the popular British series will premiere in the U.S. on Jan. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/PBS, Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for MASTERPIECE, Nick Briggs)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

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.

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.