"Downton Abbey" isn't going anywhere. Masterpiece announced a sixth season is in the works with production slated to begin in 2015. Season five premieres on PBS on Sunday, Jan. 4, but viewers in the UK have been enjoying the latest installment all fall. It wraps its run there on Sunday, November 9.
Julian Fellowes is returning as writer, but no returning cast was officially announced.
"We have had an amazing reaction to the story lines, acting and production values of 'Downton Abbey' this year and the whole team is thrilled to be moving ahead with a new season of the show," Gareth Neame, executive producer, said in a statement. "This will provide audiences with a fresh opportunity to see what will befall our much loved characters."
Season four of "Downton Abbey" had an average audience of 13.2 million viewers on PBS, making it the top drama off all-time for the channel.
"At its heart, television is about storytelling, and 'Downton Abbey' is certainly storytelling at its finest. 'Downton Abbey' and the Crawley family have kept us on the edge of our seats as they navigate through some of the biggest moments of the 20th century," Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS, said in a statement. "Along with our member stations, PBS can't wait to share the next season of 'Downton' drama with our audiences."
But, the end may be nigh for "Downton."
"In my heart of hearts, I can't see it going more than two more," Allen Leech, Branson on "Downton Abbey," told E! News. "I think the period of time we want to tell, we're coming to the end that us as actors we can keep playing these characters. Maggie Smith turned to me on one of our last days of filming this season and said, 'I must be 196 years old by now. What's in the water here?'" Leech recalled in an amazingly accurate impersonation of the acting legend. "I said, 'I don't know, Maggie,' and she goes, 'It's ridiculous. I should have been dead years ago.'"
The cast of "Downton Abbey" season five also includes Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Samantha Bond, Laura Carmichael, Lily James, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Rob James-Collier, Ed Speleers, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, David Robb, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Daisy Lewis, Douglas Reith,Jeremy Swift and Andrew Scarborough.
"Downton Abbey" premieres in the US on Sunday, Jan. 4 on PBS.