'Downton Abbey' renewed for a fourth season in the U.K.

downton-abbey-season-3-cast.jpg"Downton Abbey" fans can breathe easy: The show is returning in 2013.

Not that there was much danger of it ending -- the show just wrapped its highest-rated season ever in the United Kingdom, and creator Julian Fellowes said earlier this week that he was pretty confident about a fourth season. The official word of a renewal came Friday (Nov. 23) from ITV, which airs the show in the U.K.

"We're thrilled to welcome back a drama series that has become a much anticipated part of all our lives every autumn and achieved success around the globe," says Laura Mackie, ITV's director of drama. "Creator, writer and executive producer Julian Fellowes and the production team, led by Gareth [Neame] and the producer Liz Trubridge, never rest on their laurels and have exciting plans for the fourth series."

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There's no word yet on whether PBS, which airs "Downton Abbey" in the United States, will follow suit and bring Season 4 to these shores. It seems pretty likely, though, given the ratings success it's had for the public broadcaster.

The new season of "Downton Abbey" will take place in the early 1920s, ITV says. Filming is scheduled to begin in February for a fall 2013 premiere.

Season 3 of "Downton Abbey" premieres on PBS on Jan. 6.
Photo/Video credit: PBS
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