‘Downton Abbey’ season 4: Return of Michelle Dockery, Allen Leech set on PBS

MaryThere is some good news and bad news coming in now for fans of “Downton Abbey” in America. What do you have to smile about? The fact that season 4 of the British hit has an official premiere date. On the flip side, this is where the negative stuff comes into play: The show is not going to be back, once again, on PBS until early next year.

Specifically, the premiere date that we are looking at here is going to be Sunday, January 5, which is probably the date that so many of you expected in the first place. While it may want to make you fan yourself and shriek “oh my” a la Maggie Smith, for the network, it makes more sense to air at this time rather than concurrently with the show airing on ITV in the fall. The biggest issue is super-simple: PBS does not want to pair itself against new Sunday-night programming on other stations. They are not so much worried about the NFL playoffs given that it is an extremely different audience, but just about everything else is pretty troublesome.

The premiere is probably going to once again be extended on PBS as a sort of apology to viewers chasing the network down with pitchforks on the street. There is no official premiere date set for the show in Britain, but our early expectation is that “Downton Abbey” will once again be back in action in September or October, where it will continue to run into November. (There will then be the annual Christmas special airing on the holiday.)

Oh, and we have the latest edition of “Downton Abbey” notes (focusing entirely on some of the show’s biggest stars), you can do so over here.

Photo: ITV

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