tom cullenOkay, first of all, sorry for letting the cat out of the bag about O'Brien leaving Downton Abbey in season 4. Some of you did not see that coming, or maybe you hadn't seen it all over the entertainment news (or maybe you live in Osama bin Laden's vacated cave, I don't know). But you know what? I have more Downton Abbey spoilers BUT I'm giving you plenty of warning here before I reveal them. LE SPOILER ALERT EXTRAORDINARE. I'm dishing the goods here. We're up for some fun surprises next season -- but if you want to wait on those surprises, stop reading now! And also move to Uzbekistan. Good luck.

Okay, so you know about O'Brien's departure. And you know one of the new characters is going to be a sexy, young black musician at a London club. Well that's just the beginning! Here's a few more exciting new characters who'll shake things up at the DA. Fresh blood, fresh blood, fresh blood! (No word yet on who plays Mary's baby ...)

Real-life New Zealand opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will sing for the Crawleys as a house guest. I've never heard of her, either! I guess it's just a brief cameo.

The Dowager Countess invites her pal, Lady Shackleton, to hang with the Crawleys. She will be played by Dame Harriet Walter, who played Fanny Ferrars Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility from 1995. I've seen her play mean and catty, so this should be fun.

Bereaved widow Lady Mary is rumored to have a new love interest, Lord Gillingham, played by Tom Cullen. He's "an old family friend who has known Mary since childhood." Did I mention Tom Cullen's h-h-h-handsome? My lord. (Fans herself.)

A visiting valet played will be played by Nigel Harman. Hmm, I think he'll be popular with the maids downstairs. What a pity he'll just be visiting.

And then we have the Duchess of Yoevil played by Joanna David. Don't have any scoop on that. With a name like Yoevil, it sounds like she's a villain, but Joanna David doesn't look very villainous. The dapper actor/singer Julian Ovenden will play Charles Blake, vaguely referred to as an aristocrat. But he's awfully darn cute, so I hope we see a lot of him.

Finally, wonderful news: Shirley MacLaine will reprise her role as the spiky Martha Levinson, Cora's mother from America. Yay! Ooh, now that Violet's buddy, Lady Shackleton, has her back, I don't think Martha will be able to shake her up quite as much.

What do you think of the new characters?

 

Image via Pacific Coast News