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'Downton Abbey': The cast and producer offer insight into the new season

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(Read caption) 'Downton Abbey' stars Michelle Dockery.

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Downton Abbey” will reportedly return for a fifth season this January, so what will the British series' well-to-do characters and their servants be up to?

The “Downton” cast recently spoke about the new season during the Television Critics Association press tour. The show follows the Crawley family, aristocrats living on the estate of Downton Abbey, and their servants. The characters have lived through World War I and the fourth season ended in the 1920s.

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And the drama will continue in the next season, executive producer Gareth Neame said, according to the Los Angeles Times

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“I think for all of these characters, everything is just ratcheted up," he said. "Everything is much more complicated.”

Actress Michelle Dockery, who portrays eldest daughter Mary, says Mary is mostly out of her mourning period over the death of her husband Matthew (Dan Stevens). “I think this [season], she's quite impulsive and she's embracing her life, really," she said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "She's kind of through the grief now… She's got a bit of her bite back that we had in [Season] 1, which I've enjoyed playing.”

Neame told TVLine that Mary’s romantic dilemma, in which she has multiple suitors are pursuing her, is still a part of the upcoming episodes. “I really like the way we juggled two, maybe even three, suitors in the last season,” he said. “She’s still not quite sure, and I think there’s a good hook for the audience in the fifth season to see which decision she’s going to make.”

Meanwhile, actress Joanne Froggatt, who portrays maid Anna, says Anna and her valet husband John Bates are still dealing with the aftermath of the assault on Anna which took place last season. At the end of the previous season, it was left up in the air whether Bates had killed her attacker, Mr. Green. “There are a lot of questions for Anna and Bates still,” Froggatt said. “They're both keeping secrets from each other in order to protect the other person… I think in her heart of hearts, she really does feel that Mr. Bates hasn't done anything because she doesn't think that Mr. Bates knows that it was Mr. Green who raped her. However, she has this doubt, and it doesn't leave her. It's something that haunts her in season five.” 

In addition, viewers may be learning more about the Dowager Countess, Violet (Maggie Smith). According to the Los Angeles Times, a promotion clip referenced her “past,” and Neame told TVLine, “She has a brilliant storyline this season… It’s ‘Downton’ at its best.”

According to TVLine, "Downton" will debut its new season on Jan. 4 on PBS.

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