"Downton Abbey" doesn't return for its fifth season on Masterpiece PBS until January 4, 2015, but on Tuesday night, members of the show's cast gave television writers several hints at what's ahead.
"Downton" will pick up six months after the Season 4 finale, and according to Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates), one of the four cast members who joined Executive Producer Gareth Neame at the PBS portion of the Television Critics Association Tour on Tuesday in Beverly Hills, the new drama packs in everything viewers have come to love about the show.
"What there is, is there's what we all hope for and expect -- drama, love, comedy. There are all of those elements still there really, really strongly. I'm really, really proud of Season 5," she told reporters.
Here are five more Season 5 hints we learned from Joanne, Gareth, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), Allen Leech (Tom Branson) and Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith)...
Lady Mary Gets Her Groove Back: After spending Season 4 dressed in black and still mourning the death of Matthew Crawley, Lady Mary will have some fun this season. "I think this series, she's quite impulsive and she's embracing her life, really," Emmy nominee Michelle said. "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."
On How We'll Find Anna Bates In Season 5: Emmy nominee Joanne said in Season 5, Anna continues to be affected by the rape she suffered in Season 4, and it will continue to affect her relationship with her husband. She still thinks he is unaware of who her rapist (Green) was. "They're both keeping secrets from each other in order to protect the other person," Joanne said. "They both know they're not being quite honest with each other and they can sense it."
Lady Anstruther Is Coming To Town (Finally): Played by "The Hour's" Anna Chancellor, Lady Anstruther is heading to "Downton." Superfans will have heard the name before (she employed Jimmy), but she'll physically make an appearance in Season 5, and according to Michelle, "She's a troublemaker and she comes to the house and she creates havoc." "She's looking for something," Allen added.
The Status Of Cora's Levinson Relatives: Shirley MacLaine's Martha Levinson, mother to Cora, will not be back in Season 5, Gareth confirmed at the panel. Neither will guest actor, Emmy nominee Paul Giamatti, who plays Cora's brother, Harold Levinson. But, Gareth said they could be back in a future season.
Friendship Continues To Bloom For Mary & Tom Branson: "Their friendship has really grown and to think Mary couldn't bear the idea of Sybil and Branson," Michelle laughed. "In [Season] 5, they definitely become closer because they become confidantes. They're after the same thing for Downton, which is sustainability," Allen added. And while both are looking for love, it's "not with each other," Allen said.
-- Jolie Lash