"Downton Abbey" Season 4 Premiere Date Set by PBS

By Tierney Bricker
|  Tuesday, May 14, 2013  |  Updated 12:00 PM PDT
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Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) in "Downton Abbey"

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Break out your calendars, Anglophiles!

"Downton Abbey" is set to return for its highly anticipated fourth season on Sunday, Jan. 5, PBS announced on Tuesday. Consider it a belated Christmas gift, one much better than last season's gift; the death of a fan favorite.

The period drama will run for eight weeks before closing out season four on Feb. 23.

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Of course, viewers will be seeing a lot of changes at Downton. Not returning to the series are Dan Stevens, whose character Matthew Crawley was killed off in the season three finale, Jessica Brown Findlay, who played the beloved Lady Sybil, and Siobhan Finneran aka villainous maid O'Brien.

When we chatted with executive producer Gareth Neame about how the show would continue without Stevens, he told us, "This is a lesson in something that seems like a really big loss in the moment [that] will actually turn into a great opportunity [for Lady Mary], which it will also be for the show, to take a turn in a whole different direction."

The series will also introduce its first recurring black character, a jazz singer played by Gary Carr. Tom Cullen will also join the cast in season four as a potential love interest for Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery).

PHOTOS: Downton's wildest moments!

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