"Downton Abbey" Season 4 ends stateside on February 23 on PBS Masterpiece, but Season 5 has already started shooting in England. Richard E. Grant will join the cas as Simon Bricker as a guest of the Grantham's. You might remember Grant as the Spice Girls tour manager in the "Spice World" movie and he recently guest starred on HBO's "Girls" with Lena Dunham. Carnival Films and Masterpiece also announced that Anna Chancellor will portray Lady Anstruther in a guest-starring role, while Rade Sherbedgia will play a Russian refugee. Confirmed to reprise their roles are Dame Harriet Walter and Peter Egean as Lady Shackleton and Lord Flintshire.
“We are delighted to welcome these talented actors to the world of "Downton." The characters they play are set to bring yet more excitement and intrigue to the show," said Gareth Neame, executive producer, in a statement. Season 5 started filming on February 10 and will air in England in the fall, while the U.S. will most likely have to wait until January to see its premiere. No major cast shakeup is expected this season and Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Hugh Bonnerville, Maggie Smith are set to return. The cast will also be joined by the likes of Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Laura Carmichael, Lili James, Samantha Bond, Brenda Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Allen Leech, Rob James-Collier and the rest of the "Downton" team.
Producers also announced that in addition to the 8 episodes set a Christmas special will be produced. These specials don't necessarily revolve around the religious holiday, but air on this day in its native country for the audience to enjoy with all the family. The Season 4 special has not aired in the U.S. as of yet, but we can reveal that Shirley MacLane returned straight from America and provided some comedic relief with the very British Violet (Maggie Smith). MacLane does not come alone as she hauled over her son, which was played by American actor Paul Giamatti. He had the role of Cora's brother, Harold Levinson and causes some drama. You can read more spoilers on the Christmas Special 2013 here. What do you think of the cast additions for "Downton Abbey" Season 5?