Newbies and returners of old are slated to run through the hallowed halls of Downton Abbey in its upcoming fifth season. The series, currently nearing its end here in the United States (with some seriously messed up questions on the horizon) on Masterpiece Theater, is already putting the gears into motion for production to begin on its next. This includes casting several new and returning guest stars, several of whom have already secured their ticket to Yorkshire.
Perhaps the most notable of these is Richard E. Grant — whom you may know from his TV work on Girls this season, or Doctor Who — who is set to play Simon Bricker. Though little is known about his character’s role on the show, outside of his being a guest of the Grantham’s estate.
Additionally, the series will welcome Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Hour star Anna Chancellor. (She also played Questular Tontok in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Glynnis Payne in the 2003 Amanda Bynes movie, What a Girl Wants.) Chancellor will guest star as Lady Anstruther. Rade Sherbedgia, who’s had roles in several impressive and iconic films, including Snatch and Batman Begins in addition to his time as Dmitri Gredenko on 24, will play a Russian refugee named Kuragin, forced to flee his home country in the wake of the Russian revolution after World War I.
"We look forward to introducing these new characters to our Masterpiece audience. They will make a wonderful addition to the beloved Downton Abbey ensemble," explained Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton in a statement.
Returning members of the cast include Dame Harriet Walter, who appeared on episode one of this season as Lady Shackleton, Peter Egan, affectionately known as Shrimpie, whom we last saw in the 2012 Christmas Special. Oh that Marquess of Flintshire!
"We are delighted to welcome these talented actors to the world of Downton," stated the series’ executive producer Gareth Neame. “The characters they play are set to bring yet more excitement and intrigue to the show.”
The fifth season of the ever-popular soapy British series already has a tentative premiere in the United Kingdom — this forthcoming fall — with a winter 2015 start following close behind for those viewers on the stateside. As it stands, Downton’s current roster of stars — including Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Samantha Bond, Laura Carmichael, Lily James, Allen Leech, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Rob James-Collier, Ed Speleers, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, David Robb, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Daisy Lewis, Douglas Reith, Jeremy Swift and Andrew Scarborough — are all slated to return for the fifth season. So prepare for a full house and even more Edwardian drama.
Downton Abbey’s season four finale airs in the United States on Sunday, February 23rd on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater.