Eight new episodes, Christmas special get greenlight

LONDON — Eight new episodes plus a Christmas special of the U.K. period saga “Downton Abbey” have been greenlit.

British free-to-air web ITV announced that the skein will air in the U.K. next fall.

It is unclear when the fourth series will be broadcast in the U.S. but given “Downton Abbey’s” huge popularity Stateside the likelihood is that the U.S. telecast will follow shortly after the U.K. bow.

Filming begins on the new episodes at Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England, and Ealing Studios in February.

The show’s producers, NBCUniversal-owned shingle Carnival, said that familiar characters will join new faces for the latest batch of “Downton Abbey.”

Gareth Neame, executive producer of Downton Abbey, said, “Viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance.”

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