Masterpiece announced on Sunday that a fifth season of the megahit Downton Abbey is heading into production.
The Edwardian drama just completed its Season 4 run in the United Kingdom, drawing an average of 11.8 million viewers — the highest-rated drama this year in Britain. PBS said more than 24 million viewers saw the third season on PBS, making it the most-watched drama in the network’s history.
Downton is also bolstering PBS’s bottom line: The public television network closed out fiscal 2013 with a $24.5 million surplus, thanks in large part to Downton distribution deals.
Season 4 airs on PBS Sundays Jan. 5 through Feb.23.
“Like millions of other Downton fans, I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Crawley family,” said Paula Kerger, PBS president.