Breaking News: DOWNTON ABBEY Renewed for 5th Season!

ITV and the Makers of Downton Abbey, Carnival Films have just announced that the show has been picked up for a fifth season.

Audience figures for the fourth series have hit an average 11.8 million viewers - making it the highest rated drama on television in 2013. Downton Abbey also broke records in the US earlier this year with the finale of Series 3 beating all network and cable competition to become the highest rating programme that evening on American television. The series, which aired on PBS's Masterpiece, a co-producer with Carnival Films, was watched by a total of 24 million viewers.

The globally successful series, produced by Carnival Films, part of NBCUniversal International Television Production, debuted on ITV in 2010 and has since been sold to over 220 territories and is viewed by an estimated global audience of 120 million people.

The fifth series will once again be written by Julian Fellowes and Executive Produced by Gareth Neame, the Managing Director of Carnival, together with Liz Trubridge and Fellowes.

But before that viewers can look forward to the return of Downton Abbey on Christmas Day, with a 2 hour feature episode which will see Shirley MacLaine reprise her role as Martha Levinson and Paul Giamatti join the cast as Cora's playboy brother, Harold along side all the much loved regular characters of the show.

Downton Abbey 2013 Christmas Special

Downton Abbey Christmas Special 2013

Re-live your favourite moments with the characters you love, when Downton Abbey Series 4 Blu-Ray and DVD is released on Monday 11th November courtesy of Universal Pictures (UK). Featuring all 8 episodes from the award winning drama, plus 3 exclusive features that delve into the Making of Downton Abbey, The Downton Diaries and Meet The New Arrivals. A complete box set of Series 1-4 will also be available from the same date.

Carnival's Managing Director Gareth Neame said: "Audiences have enjoyed their regular Sunday evening visits back to Downton once again this autumn and we are thrilled to produce a new series of the show next year. We promise all the usual highs and lows, romance, drama and comedy played out by some of the most iconic characters on television. All the actors and Makers of the show continue to be humbled by the extraordinary audience response and want to take the show from strength to strength next year".

ITV's Director of Drama Commissioning, Steve November responded. "We are enormously happy to have Downton Abbey on ITV and we are delighted to be announcing this new series. With Julian writing and Gareth and Liz producing we know it will be as warm, witty, romantic and dramatic as previous series and we can't wait to catch up with our favourite characters again."