‘Downton Abbey’ Adds Six and Plans Return Visit by Shirley MacLaine

Downton Abbey

Season 3 of the international hit Downton Abbey brought its share of surprises to its audience; namely the untimely demise of both Lady Sybil (actress Jessica Brown Findlay) and fan-favorite Matthew Crawley (actor Dan Stevens). And then last week we reported here that actress Siobhan Finneran, who plays Miss O’Brien, will not be back for the much-anticipated fourth season of the series.

Now, comes a bit of good news for the show and its avarice fans from the folks over at The Wrap. There will be six – yes six! – new faces joining the popular mini-series as well as the return of legendary actress Shirley MacLaine, who will reprise her role of Martha Levinson, mother to Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).

Here are the few details that have been released on those six new faces:

* New Zealand-born opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, will play a “guest who sings at the Crawley household”;

* Actor Tom Cullen (‘World Without End’) will appear as Lord Gillingham, an “old friend who visits the family” and separate reports state that he will be Mary’s…. new love interest (hold onto your hats Mary and Matthew loyalists!);

* Actor Nigel Harman (‘Hotel Babylon’) will appear as a valet named Green;

* Dame Harriet Walter (‘Law & Order: UK’) will play Lady Shackleton, an “old friend of the Dowager” (Maggie Smith);

* Actress Joanna David (the TV mini-series ‘Pride & Prejudice’) will guest star as the Duchess of Yeovil; and,

* Actor Julian Ovenden (‘Any Human Heart’) will play aristocrat Charles Blake.

Fans should also take note that while MacLaine will be back for season four of ‘Downton Abbey’, she is not expected to appear until the season finale.

Filming is ongoing of season four right now with expectation of the new season airing in the UK later this year. Viewers in the United States, however, will have to hold out until 2014 for the new season.