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Confirmed: Dan Stevens Will Not Return to DOWNTON ABBEY

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Related: DOWNTON ABBEY, ITV, Dan Stevens

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Following rumors of Dan Stevens' intent to depart the acclaimed British drama DOWNTON ABBEY, TVLine has confirmed, through multiple sources, that the actor will not return as a series regular on the upcoming fourth season.

However, according to sources, the actor may appear in select episodes when production time comes in February.

Neither ITV or ABBEY's showrunners have officially confirmed the news.

According to the Daily Mail, the 30-year-old actor will be featured in the series' two-hour Christmas special and the first episode of season 4, which has been confirmed. Recently, series creator Julian Fellowes spoke out on Stevens' rumored departure.

“Sometimes actors feel they want to move on,” Fellowes told Entertainment Weekly. “If they don’t want to come back, there’s nothing we can do.”

The entire debacle over Stevens' potential write-out on ABBEY came during an interview over his Broadway debut in The Heiress. He said, "New York for me is going to be one big adventure. I will be taking the whole family out and we will be there for six months. I don’t know if I will be returning to DOWNTON."

The widely-acclaimed drama was officially renewed for a fourth season last month by ITV. According to the British broadcaster, the fourth season will consist of eight episodes and an extended Christmas special, set to begin airing in the Fall of 2013 in the UK. The third season has just recently wrapped up. "Viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance," executive producer Gareth Neame said in a statement.

Written and created by Julian Fellowes, the series won an impressive six Primetime Emmy® Awards and a Golden Globe® in its first season. Recent honors for Season 2 include multi-category nominations from the Critics' Choice Awards and from the Television Critics Association.

The cast also includes Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle and a host of others, joined by Shirley MacLaine (Oscar® for Best Actress, Terms of Endearment), who plays Martha Levinson, the very American mother of Cora, Countess of Grantham (McGovern).

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