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'Downton Abbey' preview set to air in December

This undated publicity photo provided by PBS shows Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess, left, and Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson from the TV series,

This undated publicity photo provided by PBS shows Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess, left, and Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson from the TV series, "Downton Abbey." Carnival Films and MASTERPIECE on PBS today announced that six new cast names are joining the series plus the return of Shirley MacLaine for next season's finale. The Hollywood star, who reprises her role as Martha Levinson, proved a huge hit with viewers last year. (AP Photo/PBS, Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE, Nick Briggs)

PBS is setting the table for the "Downton Abbey" feast ahead with a preview special planned for broadcast in December.

PBS' "Masterpiece" says "Return to Downton Abbey" will air Dec. 1 with what is billed as "a tantalizing taste" of the upcoming season, which begins Jan. 5.

It also will look at the series' past three seasons.

Susan Sarandon serves as host for the special, a mix of behind-the-scenes footage, clips of favorite moments, and interviews with cast members. Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter and Shirley MacLaine are among the stars who will appear in the special.

"Downton Abbey," the wildly popular drama about British class and culture a century ago, will move into the Roaring Twenties in the new season.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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