The U.K. network behind the drama series “Downton Abbey” made it official today that the period drama, which airs in the U.S. on PBS’s “Masterpiece,” will return for a sixth season.
ITV made the announcement at a point when viewers in the U.S. have yet to see season five, Forbes notes. The season launches on PBS Jan. 4.
As for the show’s U.K. reception, the report notes: “The ratings for season 5, which finishes its run on ITV this coming Sunday, have not reached the peaks of 2013. The season premiere in September scored an overnight rating of 8.4 million viewers, down over a million from the previous year and the show’s lowest season opener since it began in 2010 with 7.7 million viewers.”
With season six now on order, the show’s run will surpass 50 hours of programming — “a very rare achievement in British TV, in which drama series tend to have much shorter episode runs,” the report notes.
Said Steve November, director of drama commissioning for ITV: “It is fantastic that ‘Downton’ continues to be such a phenomenon — still the most popular drama on ITV in its fifth series — and we are thrilled to have commissioned a sixth series.”