Lady Mary in season four with Downton's yet-unnamed heir.
It's been exactly two weeks since the season three finale of "Downton Abbey" here in the U.S., and I'm still in upstairs/downstairs withdrawal. Thankfully, news of season four has leaked allowing those of us with a Dowager Countess jones-ing to get a fix.
What we know:
- Season four will open six months after Matthew's death with the Crawleys getting on with things, stiff upper lips and all that.
- Siobhan Finneran (the unfortunately be-banged O'Brien) will not be returning. This was foreshadowed with O'Brien, desirous of a change of scenery, all but throwing herself at Shrimpy's wife with tressing services when hearing of their posting to India. O'Brien is said to "disappear mysteriously."
- Several new characters will be introduced, including...
1. Lord Gillingham, an old family friend of the Crawleys, played by Tom Cullen. YUM! He is set to help Lady Mary cast off her widow black.
2. Lady Shackleton, an old school friend of the Dowager Countess, played by Dame Harriet Walter. "[T]he character is said to be a 'force to be reckoned with' who can 'hold her own' against the Countess’s barbed wit." Delicious.
3. The Duchess of Yeovil, played by Joanna David. There is no other info on this character.
4. Charles Blake, an aristocrat, played by Julian Ovenden. Another suitor for Lady Mary or will preternaturally sadsack Edith be thrown a very handsome bone?
5. Green, a valet played by Nigel Harman. Wasn't Downton overrun with valets in season three's finale?
6. A house guest who sings at a party to cheer Lady Mary up will be played by Kiwi opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Random!
7. The as yet uncast character of Jack Ross, described as "a singer in an exclusive club," will be "Downton Abbey's" first black character.
- And last, but certainly not least, Shirley MacLaine will return in season four's finale as Lady Cora's very American and very overbearing mother, Martha Levinson! Dumplings, why would Mrs. Levinson return? A marriage? A death? To bail out the Crawleys after Lord Robert, unable to resist shady overseas investments, becomes involved in the Teapot Dome scandal?