SPOILER: Downton Abbey series four details revealed!

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New characters have been revealed while we say goodbye to Sarah O'Brien...

Downton Abbey

© ITV

Filming has begun for series four of Downton Abbey and the brand new characters have been revealed!

Tom Cullen has been confirmed to join the cast as Lord Gillingham who is described as having a history with Lady Mary.

Casting notes say he is "good looking, very charismatic" with a "perfect cut-glass accent. He's warm and charming, but also a strong man with morals."

Other new characters include Lady Shackleton, played by Harriet Walter, who is a friend of the Dowager and able to take her on while New Zealand singer will make a cameo as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and will sing while she is a guest of the Crawley family.

Emilia Fox' mother, Joanna David, will guest-star as the Duchess of Yeovil and Julian Ovenden as Charles Blake but it has not yet been said who will play Sir John Bullock, who is described as a party-loving cad who "must be able to act drunk".

Downstairs, former EastEnders actor Nigel Harman will join the cast as a valet called Green!

The show is also set to introduce a black character as part of a storyline about race relations in the 1920s.

He's described as "a musician (singer) at an exclusive club in the 20s. He's black and very handsome. A real man (not a boy) with charm and charisma… Overall he should be a very attractive man with a certain wow factor."

But there is some sad news about the cast changes as Siobhan Finnerman, who plays the scheming maid Sarah O'Brien, will not return for series four.

She said,"I'm not doing any more. O'Brien is a thoroughly despicable human being - that was great to play."

Shirley MacLaine will reprise her role as Martha Levinson, but not until the feature-length Christmas Special.

Executive producer Gareth Neame said, "Downton Abbey has seen many great characters visit the house over the years and we couldn't be more thrilled to welcome the new faces that will be joining the regular cast of Downton in series four."

So much change but surely it will only make the show even better!

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