Maggie Smith

It’s Official: ‘Downton Abbey’ Renewed for Series 5!

Megahit costume drama Downton Abbey just wrapped its fourth season in the UK, and we’ve still got several weeks to go before we get the new episodes arrive in America, but there’s still some good news to be had for fans of the Crawley clan.

ITV has officially confirmed that Downton Abbey will return for a fifth season. Rejoice, fans everywhere! This news isn’t incredibly surprising, given that Downton is a monster ratings hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and its fourth season just averaged around 11.8 million viewers per episode in Great Britain. The delay between UK and US airings hasn’t impacted ratings for the show here in America, as it remains PBS’s most-watched drama to date. Read on for more details.

Celebrate 50 Years of the National Theatre with Every British Actor Ever

Well, not quite. But that’s what it feels like.

Britain’s National Theatre celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – much like several other British greats, including the Rolling Stones and, of course, Doctor Who. For those that don’t know, the NT is one of the UK’s two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company. It presents a varied program, staging everything from Shakespeare and international classic dramas to new and modern works by contemporary playwrights.

Saturday night the BBC ran an all-star gala event in celebration of the British theatrical institution – which has featured many of the UK’s acting greats treading its boards over the years – crossing the half-century mark and it was basically a dream program for anyone who has ever been any sort of fan of British film, television or drama. The celebration featured snippets from some of the NT’s most celebrated plays and musicals from the past fifty years, performed by a wide array of British acting greats. Dame Judi Dench sang Send in the Clowns from Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Dame Maggie Smith (one of the six members of the original NT company in 1963) performed a scene from The Beaux Strategem. Dame Helen Mirren did a scene from Mourning Becomes Electra. James Corden reprised his role from One Man, Two Guvnors, Alan Bennett performed Richard Griffith’s famous role from The History Boys. Michael Gambon and Sir Derek Jacobi did a scene from Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land together. Joey, the amazing puppet from War Horse, put in an appearance. And that’s not even close to everyone who participated. All in all, you couldn’t ask for a more magical evening.

Watch a video montage of scenes from the gala’s rehearsals and play spot the famous face as you go.

A Sequel to 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' is Actually Happening; Filming to Begin in 2014

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a heartwarming British film about a group of retirees who are duped into spending their golden years in an over-hyped Indian retirement hotel, features an all-star cast that basically reads like an wishlist of British acting royalty, including Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie and more. It also grossed more than $130 million dollars at the box office worldwide.

Thus, you can probably guess why rumors of a Marigold Hotel sequel have been swirling around the internet for well over a year. Yet, despite the strong likelihood of a sequel happening – and the obvious excitement with which such a film would doubtless be greeted – no concrete details managed to emerge.

Until now.

The First PBS Preview for 'Downton Abbey' Series 4 is Here!

American Downton Abbey fans are furiously counting down the days until the costume drama returns to our television screens on January 5, 2014. We’re all also trying to contain our jealousy that our lucky lucky UK friends are currently getting to watch the new season for themselves as we speak, so any tidbit or snippet of new information is like water in the desert for us.

So, while we can’t have new episodes yet, we can get another new look at the upcoming season – PBS has released its official first trailer for Downton Series 4. Watch for yourselves below.

New 'Downton Abbey' Clip Shows What's In Store for Lady Mary

Our lucky duck British friends get to start Downton Abbey Series 4 in the UK this weekend, so it’s understandable that we American viewers are both a.) a little jealous and b.) a lot desperate to see anything we can from the new season, to make our wait just a bit easier until January 5.

The new series starts six months after the tragic events of the Series 3 cliffhanger, and the Crawleys are all still attempting to deal with the fallout.

This latest clip just released by ITV won’t make the wait for Series 4 any shorter, but it’ll get you pretty excited to start making your countdown calendars as soon as possible. Take a look for yourself below. (Warning: there be spoilers here for anyone that’s yet to see the end of Series 3 yet, so tread with care!)

'Downton Abbey' Cast and Creators Tease Series 4 Secrets

It’s true – we’re all counting down the days (Hours? Minutes?) until Downton Abbey returns. What will Series 4 have in store for us after the dramatic cliffhanger in Series 3? Who are all these new people we keep seeing in magazine spreads and entertainment articles? What will become of our favorite characters? Well, in a new clip from PBS, several of the Downton creators and cast give us (the briefest) look (ever) at what we can expect from the new season of everybody’s favorite costume drama.

Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame, Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael discuss what we can expect to see this season for Crawley daughters, including a period of mourning and darkness for Mary and a surprising evolution for Edith.

They also do superbrief introductions to three of the new faces we’ll be seeing around Downton this year. (Warning, there be spoilers here if for some reason you’ve not finished Series 3 yet.)

Watch: The First Trailer for 'Downton Abbey' Series 4

Everyone remain calm. The moment we have all been waiting for is finally here.

The first trailer for Downton Abbey Series 4 has arrived. And it is a joy to behold.

The minute-long clip gives us our first look at Downton and the Crawley clan in the wake of the tragic loss of Matthew at the end of last season. Much of the clip focuses on what appears to be Mary’s attempt to move on without her husband, but we get a glimpse of nearly every major character – and a few new faces as well.

There’s laughter and tears and fistfights and kissing and meaningful glances and just, well. Basically everything you’d expect from Downton Abbey. Watch for yourself below and swoon

Ten Second 'Downton Abbey' Teaser Released; Full Trailer Coming August 31

Get excited, people: The first teaser trailer for Downton Abbey Series 4 is here.

Well, sort of. Sure, it doesn’t contain any actual footage. Yes, it’s only just over ten seconds long. (Even the first Sherlock Series 3 teaser – which pretty much defined tease – gave us more to work with than that!) But even so, this super brief promos is still going to make you excited in spite of yourself.

The clip features merely a tiny snippet from the show’s opening credit sequence set to a voiceover by the Dowager Countess. “You have a straightforward choice before you. You must choose either death or life,” intones the most awesome lady on television, and clearly must be speaking to her granddaughter Mary about the fallout from last season’s dramatic (and heartbreaking) finale. Though I suppose she could be talking to either Robert or Cora as well, but Mary certainly makes the most sense.

Watch for yourself below.

Downton Abbey Series 4 Premiere Date Set for PBS

It’s official: the highly-anticipated fourth series of blockbuster costume drama Downton Abbey has an American premiere date! The series is set to return to Masterpiece on Sunday, January 5, 2014 and will run for eight weeks, concluding on February 23. So, if you’ve been waiting for confirmation to get started making your elaborate Series 4 countdown calendars, party hats or other paraphernalia, well, now you know.

Series 4 will feature the return of series regulars Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, the indomitable Dame Maggie Smith and more. Several new guest stars are also set to join the fray as well, including Gary Carr, Tom Cullen, Nigel Harman, Joanna David, Julian Ovenden, Dame Harriet Walter, and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Oh, and Shirley MacLaine will also be back as Cora’s mother Martha and newcomer Lily James is sticking around as wildchild Cousin Rose. So you know, looks like there’s still plenty of drama in store for us this year.

Dame Maggie Smith Gets a National Portrait Gallery Painting: What Do We Think?

Dame Maggie Smith, the indomitable Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey and general luminary of stage and screen who has won seven BAFTA awards and two Oscars is certainly deserving of an official portrait in Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. It’s a great honor, and one which she has certainly earned.

So, it’s definitely a fantastic thing that the great actress has been so honored – Smith’s portrait was revealed at the London museum on April 9. However, well, it could be said that this particular bit of artwork is not quite the equal of the lady it’s depicting. (In my ever so humble opinion of course. Someone convince me I’m wrong!)

Have a look for yourselves below.

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