Downton Abbey stars confirmed for new series

Downton Abbey stars Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery are confirmed to return for a fifth series of the ITV period drama

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Downton Abbey cast

Downton Abbey cast

Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery will return for the fifth series of 'Downton Abbey'.

The stars - who play Lord Grantham, Violet Crawley and Lady Mary Crawley respectively - were rumoured to be leaving the ITV hit drama after Dan Stevens and Jessica Findlay quit the show to pursue careers in Hollywood.

But the show's creator Julian Fellowes has alleviated fears about more cast departures telling The Sun newspaper: "I would do a fifth series but you must be careful not to go on too long.

"Although most actors stayed [for series four], whether they will stay when they have the option again, I think that's another issue."

Julian then went on to speak about the exits of Dan - who played Matthew Crawley - and Jessica, who portrayed Lady Sybil, saying: "I hoped they would stay on. But Dan has got a movie out and another three in production so maybe he got it right."

Dan left the series in a bid to try his hand breaking into Hollywood, and before departing for the US he hadn't realised how full-on Americans can be.

He explained: "The fans are on a whole different level in the US. Although it's difficult to tell whether it's just American enthusiasm - when American like something they really like it. People can get disappointed if I don't turn up wearing tails.

"There's all sorts of merchandise. I've yet to see the 'Downton' lunch box - I didn't even know people still used lunch boxes!"

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