7:30am PT by Erin Carlson
'Downton Abbey' Season 4 Gets Air Date
Downton Abbey, PBS' most-watched series, returns for a fourth season Jan. 5 through Feb. 23 in the U.S., PBS announced Tuesday
As previously reported, Shirley MacLaine will reprise her role as Martha Levinson, Cora's (Elizabeth McGovern) mother, and there will also be some new faces in the cast. Among them: Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham, a Crawley family friend whose history with Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) goes back to childhood; Nigel Harman as a visiting valet named Green; and Dame Harriet Walter as Lady Shackleton, a friend of the Dowager (Maggie Smith).
Per previous seasons, the fourth edition will begin airing in September in the U.K.
PBS has also unveiled a new series on its primetime line-up: Last Tango in Halifax, a British dramedy premiering Sept. 8. ahead of the finale of Masterpiece Mystery! series Silk. The network picked up the six-episode first season from the BBC, which previously aired it last year; Last Tango attracted 7.3 million viewers in the U.K., making it one of BBC One's highest-rated programs. A second season has been ordered.
Written by Sally Wainwright, who executive produces along with Matthew Read, Last Tango tells the modern-day tale of childhood sweethearts Alan (Derek Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid) -- both widowed and in their 70s -- who rekindle the flame after reuniting online.
"I fell in love with Last Tango and its stars from the moment I saw it," said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. "And love and family and all the complications that come with it are at the heart of this warm comedy-drama."
Meanwhile, the 1959-set third installment of Call the Midwife returns next year as the Swinging Sixties begin to sweep through London.