Downton Abbey has been renewed for a fifth series by ITV.
Carnival Films confirmed the renewal Sunday, ahead of the period drama’s fourth series finale.
Creator Julian Fellowes will return as head writer, along with executive producers Liz Trubridge and Gareth Neame.
“Audiences have enjoyed their regular Sunday evening visits back to Downton once again this autumn and we are thrilled to produce a new series of the show next year,” Neame said in a statement.
“We promise all the usual highs and lows, romance, drama and comedy played out by some of the most iconic characters on television,” he added. “All the actors and makers of the show continue to be humbled by the extraordinary audience response and want to take the show from strength to strength next year.”
The fourth series of Downton Abbey premiered on September 22 in the UK on ITV, and will premiere in the US on PBS on January 5, 2014.
According to ITV, the fourth series has hit an average of 11.8 million viewers, making it the highest-rated drama on television this year. The series also broke records in the US with its third series finale.
Earlier this year, Downton Abbey cast Gary Carr as its first black character. Carr was cast as Jack Ross, a “charming and charismatic” jazz musician. Julian Fellowes has said in the past that he would like to add more black and Asian characters to the cast.
“I think that’s a rather good idea,” Fellowes said.“You have to work it in in a way that is historically believable, but I am sure we could do that. The show certainly ought to have an Indian character from that period.”
Gareth Neame added, “We are delighted to introduce another fantastic, dynamic character to Downton Abbey. His addition will bring interesting twists to the drama which we can’t wait for viewers to see in Series 4.”