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After the tragic loss of Dan Steven's Mr. Crawley, and now eminent departure of the perpetually grumpy Mrs. O'Brien, played by Siobhan Finneran, the next season of Downton Abbey will sport all of six new characters.
We left season three most notably with Lady Mary becoming both a mother and a widower, and season four promises to deal with the eldest daughter coming to terms with such events.
According to examiner.com, arriving to help her (or hurt her?) include Opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Harriet Walter, Nigel Harman, Joanna David, Julian Ovenden, and indie star indie star Tom Cullen.
Te Kanawa will play a performer who comes to entertain at Downton, while the veteran actor Walter will play a friend of the Dowager Countess. Harman will play a valet, David as a duchess, and Ovenden as an aristocrat named Charles Blake.
Possibly most interesting is the addition of Weekend star Tom Cullen, (shown above) who will be portraying Lord Gillingham. latimes.com notes that "In the announcement, his character was billed simply as 'an old family friend of the Crawleys who has known Lady Mary since childhood' but is widely rumored to be the widow’s new love interest".
The show will pick up six months after it left off with the events of season three, and will return to British television in September, and to PBS thereafter.