'Downton Abbey' Season 5 Trailer Released! Premieres September 21 on ITV, January 4 on PBS

Downton Abbey returns for an epic fifth season of intimately interlaced stories centered on an English country estate—a deliciously entertaining formula that has made it the highest-rated drama in PBS history. Downton Abbey, Season 5, airs Sundays, January 4 - March 1, 2015 on Masterpiece on PBS.

Note: Downton Abbey premieres September 21 in the UK on ITV.

Season 5 features returning stars Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, Allen Leech, Robert James-Collier, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Lily James, Brendan Coyle, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Samantha Bond, Ed Speleers, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, David Robb, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Daisy Lewis, Douglas Reith, Jeremy Swift, and Andrew Scarborough.

This acclaimed ensemble is joined by guest stars Harriet Walter (Atonement), reprising her role as Lady Shackleton, and Peter Egan (Death at a Funeral), who returns as Lord Flintshire, together with completely new characters played by Richard E. Grant (Girls), Anna Chancellor (The Hour), and Rade Sherbedgia (24).

"Four wonderful seasons of Downton Abbey, each drawing a larger audience than the last, and now Series 5," says Masterpiece Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton. "This is a television dream come true!"

Written and created by Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey, Season 5, is a Carnival Films/Masterpiece Co-Production. Carnival Films, headed by Downton Abbey Executive Producer Gareth Neame, is a division of NBCUniversal International Television Production. The series’ many honors include ten Emmys®, two Golden Globes®, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards®. Season 4 just received 12 Emmy® nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series.

Executive Producer Gareth Neame says, “Our cast and crew have been immersed in the world of Downton for the last five years and it is a thrill to have seen it grow in popularity in the United States to become one of the most watched shows on television. We're currently hard at work on season 5 and viewers can expect all the highs and lows, the heady mix of drama, romance and comedy and plenty of new surprises.”

Viewership and social media stats have soared since Downton Abbey launched in January 2011. Season 4 drew an average audience of 13.2 million viewers, making it the top PBS drama of all time and one of the highest-rated dramas now on American television.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Viewers can expect to follow plot threads left dangling from last season, including Lady Mary's courtship contest, Lady Edith’s trials as a secret single mom, Thomas' scheming against Bates, Robert's battles against modernity, Tom's quest to be true to his ideals, Violet's one-line zingers, and much, much more.

One of the recurring themes of Downton Abbey is change, from the wrenching consequences of the Titanic disaster in Season 1 to a notorious automobile accident at the end of Season 3—plus World War I, women’s rights, and the new morals, inventions, and fashions of the 1920s.

Which is where Season 5 kicks off. It's 1924. The United Kingdom has its first Labor Party prime minister. The radio is the latest miracle of the age. And Downton's traditional ways are besieged on all fronts, as evidenced by this exchange between the head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, and the butler, Mr. Carson:

"We're catching up, Mr. Carson. Whether you like it or not, Downton is catching up with the times we live in," says the forward-thinking Mrs. Hughes.

"That's exactly what I’m afraid of!" the butler retorts.

Check out the official Downton Abbey Season 5 trailer:

Whet your appetite for Downton Abbey, Season 5, with a Masterpiece Special: The Manners of Downton Abbey, hosted by on-set historian Alastair Bruce. Airing on January 4 on PBS, just prior to the series' premiere, this fascinating one-hour documentary follows Bruce, the maestro of period manners and historical accuracy, as he helps the Downton Abbey cast and crew recreate the social behaviors of early-1900s Britain. Cast members Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery reveal what it's like to inhabit characters from a different era, giving fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of the series.

Downton Abbey is a Carnival Films/Masterpiece Co-Production written and created by Julian Fellowes. The series is Executive Produced by Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes, Liz Trubridge, and Nigel Marchant. Chris Croucher is the Producer. The Executive Producer for MASTERPIECE is Rebecca Eaton. The Director of episodes one, two, and three is Catherine Morshead. The Director of episodes four, five, and nine is Minkie Spiro. The Director of episodes six and seven is Philip John. The Director of episode eight is Michael Engler.

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