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'Downton Abbey' renewed for 5th season

PBS has yet to air the fourth season of "Downton Abbey," but already has announced that its biggest hit ever will be back for a fifth season.

The British series, which recently completed its fourth season on Britain's ITV network, has become an international phenomenon and a huge hit for PBS. Earlier this year, more than 24 million viewers watched Season 3 in the U.S., making it the most-watched drama in PBS history.

Season 4 (trailer above) debuts on PBS's "Masterpiece" at 8 p.m. CST Jan. 5.

"As American audiences ready themselves for the January 5th premiere of Season 4, our devoted 'Downton' fans will rest easy knowing that a fifth season is on the way,” "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton said in a release.

For the uninitiated, "Downton Abbey" tells the story of the aristocratic Crawley family and its "below stairs" staff living in the family's country estate called Downton Abbey. It's set during the early 20th century, when war, new attitudes, and political/social upheaval changed the British class system forever.

"Like millions of other Downton fans, I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Crawley family,” said Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “PBS is proud to be the home of this extraordinarily entertaining series, and, along with our stations, we look forward to sharing Season 5 with U.S. audiences."

Written and created by Julian Fellowes, "Downton Abbey" has won Golden Globe and Emmy awards since debuting in 2010.

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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