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'Downton Abbey' star Dan Stevens won't return for fourth season

'Downton Abbey' the hugely popular PBS series, has confirmed Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, has not signed on for a fourth season.
Julian fellowes downton abbeyEnlarge
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R), accompanied by Julian Fellowes (L) and an academy director, watches a performance as she visits the Royal Academy of Arts in central London, on May 23, 2012. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

'Downton Abbey' the hugely popular PBS historical drama set in England, has confirmed that star Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, has not signed on for a fourth season.

After months of speculation, a spokesman for 'Downton' told Deadline the show will begin filming a fourth season without its leading man.

Last night in the UK, the popular series aired a Christmas special that explained his departure, but that episode won't be available in the US until the end of the third season, according to Deadline. 

Season 3 begins airing in America on PBS at the beginning of the new year on January 6th.

Stevens is currently performing on Broadway in New York with actress Jessica Chastain in critically acclaimed "The Heiress."

Steven told NBC's Today show "it was a very difficult decision... but it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things,"

He added "it is a very monopolizing job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/hollyworld/downton-abbey-star-dan-stevens-wont-return-fourth-season