The period drama that refuses to die will return for a new season of conflicts next Autumn.
iTV have this week announced the recommissioning of Downton Abbey for a fifth season. Set to broadcast next year, the new run will again star Hugh Bonneville, Penelope Wilton and its beloved ensemble, with Paul Giamatti joining the cast as Harold Grantham in this year's Christmas Special and reprising his role for the latest season.
This move by iTV may have appeared a given on the basis of another strong set of ratings for Season Four, yet it may moreover have come as a surprise to fans who were expecting closure from the recently broadcast finale. Maggie Smith was not expected to return beyond a fourth season of the programme, which seemed to leave the future of Downton Abbey in doubt, yet either way the studio are pushing on with another run of eight episodes. Smith's absence would to this writer be a crushing blow for the admirable period drama, and if her days on the series are numbered, then perhaps next year will finally mark a resolution for this monolithic, seemingly unstoppable production.
Downton Abbey returns for its 2013 Christmas Special on Christmas Day, with Season Five set to commence broadcasting in Autumn 2014.