'Downton Abbey' new season and contest announced by Masterpiece

Stop the presses and pop the bubbly, Masterpiece has announced two great bits of news: The four-parter series "Downton Abbey" - same writer, same cast, NEW episodes - will return to Masterpiece next year.

AND, you can enter to win a trip to Highclere Castle, the setting for Downton Abbey!

By entering Masterpiece's 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes, you have a chance to win a four-day trip to England for two adults for a VIP tour of some of Masterpiece's most iconic locations, including Highclere, the "real" Downton Abbey. 

In collaboration with VisitBritain, Britain's national tourism agency, the Sweepstakes is fabulous and easy to enter through April 26, 2011.

Click HERE for more information and Official Rules.

"Downton Abbey" withdrawals? Well 2012 may be the end of the world according to the Mayans, but for the rest of us, it's the year of "Downton Abbey" new episodes!

This amazing series which concluded its run on PBS this past Sunday night, will return with new episodes in winter 2012.

From PBS

Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes' Edwardian spellbinder, produced by Carnival Films and MASTERPIECE, depicts the intertwined lives of servants and aristocrats at a country estate and is one of the most successful miniseries in recent MASTERPIECE history.

Dubbed "an instant classic" by The New York Times, and saw our review, "'Abbey' is much a study of the historical shifts in British society as it is a good rollicking potboiler of sex, status and back-stabbing drama" by Monsters and Critics, more than six million viewers watched the television broadcast each week and thousands more streamed it on the Masterpiece website and discussed it online.

"Lightning doesn't strike often in television these days, but it certainly did with Downton Abbey," says Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "It was a fantastic start to our 40th anniversary season, and Series II is good news for everyone."

Julian Fellowes will continue as the writer for upcoming series, and Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern will also return in their respective roles.

Downton Abbey is a Carnival/MASTERPIECE co-production, written and created by Julian Fellowes. The executive producers are Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes, Liz Trubridge, and Rebecca Eaton. The Downton Abbey DVD is available from PBS Home Video: http://shoppbs.org.

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