Though its hordes of U.S. fans are still waiting for the third season of Downton Abbey to begin airing on PBS, that season ended last night in the UK with 10.1 million viewers, according to Deadline, making it the show’s highest-rated season yet for Brit broadcaster ITV.
The third season, costarring Shirley MacLaine, will begin January 6 in the U.S., and it will certainly not be the end of the Downton saga; as with the second season, there’s a two-hour movie wrapping up loose ends after the season. And there may be even more, you Grantham gluttons–the Deadline report features creator Julian Fellowes saying he envisions at least a fourth season.
The Masterpiece franchise Downton Abbey has given PBS–perpetually under threat, not least by Presidential candidate Mitt Romney–a new lease on life. Longtime Masterpiece producer Rebecca Eaton, whose work to this point had been widely praised but never in recent memory as widely viewed across America, told The Observer in March that she eagerly awaited more Downton, but “We have to try to keep Julian Fellowes alive—we can’t just work him into the ground.”