The Crawleys are coming back: Britain's ITV and PBS said hit family saga Downton Abbey, about an aristocratic family and their servants in the early 20th century, will return for a fifth season.
The renewal is hardly a surprise. The fourth season, which recently ended in the U.K., averaged 11.8 million viewers, ranking as the top-rated drama there, and the series is also the most-watched drama in PBS history, with last season's finale averaging 8.2 million. Season four will air on PBS Jan. 5-Feb. 23, following a preview special, Return to Downton Abbey, scheduled for Dec. 1.
"Audiences have enjoyed their regular Sunday evening visits back to Downton once again this autumn and we are thrilled to produce a new series of the show next year," said executive producer Gareth Neame, in a statement referring to its British run. "We promise all the usual highs and lows, romance, drama and comedy played out by some of the most iconic characters on television. All the actors and makers of the show continue to be humbled by the extraordinary audience response and want to take the show from strength to strength next year."
If history is a guide, Season 5 will air on British television next fall and in the USA in early 2015.