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Dan Stevens Will Not Return for Fourth Season of DOWNTON ABBEY

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Related: Downton Abbey, ITV, PBS

A production source told the UK's Sunday Express yesterday that Dan Stevens, currently starring opposite Jessica Chastain in Broadway's 'The Heiress,' will not be returning for the fourth season of the ITV series DOWNTON ABBEY. The show's third season will premiere on PBS beginning January 16th in the US.

"Dan Stevens isn't returning to the series," the source revealed. "He will probably do the first episode of the fourth series, but that will be it."

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. No details have been revealed as to how his character, Matthew Crawley, will be written out of the show. 

While commenting on making his Broadway debut in The Heiress in a recent interview, Stevens shared, "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 week 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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