Downton Abbey Series 4: Shirley MacLaine IS returning as Martha Levinson, and opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is making a cameo too!

With all the recent chopping and changing of the Downton Abbey cast list, it has now been revealed that one face from last year who wasn’t expected to be returning, Shirley MacLaine, is set to reprise her role as Martha Levinson!

We reported last month how show bosses had expressed a desire for Hollywood actress MacLaine, who plays the modern-world embracing mother of Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) to make a return in series 4 of the hit ITV period drama, but that her busy schedule probably meant that was unlikely.

However, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph, MacLaine has managed to clear a window and will indeed be back for series four.

MacLaine made her Downton debut during last year’s series three of the show and instantly became firm favourite amongst fans as her new-fangled ideas clashed relentlessly with those of her British counterpart and spurring partner, The Dowager Countess (Dame Maggie Smith).

Meanwhile, after the deaths of both Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) during series three, along with the shocking announcement that ladies maid O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) was also leaving ahead of the new series, the casting crew have been working overtime to fill the voids left.

Tom Cullen

Tom Cullen

As we reported yesterday Tom Cullen has been cast to play Lady Mary’s (Michelle Dockery) new love interest, Lord Anthony Gillingham, and Julian Ovenden has also been cast to play aristocrat Charles Blake.

British acting veteran, Harriet Walter, who recently played Brutus in an all-female production of Julius Caesar, is set to join the cast as Lady Shackleton, an old friend of the Dowager Countess, and Joanna David will play a guest role as the Duchess of Yeovil.
Former EastEnders star, Nigel Harman, was also announced as a new face, though details of his character remained a mystery – until now.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports Harman, who played Dennis Rickman, the murdered step-brother-come-husband of current EastEnder Sharon (Letitia Dean), will play a valet named Green.

Finally New Zealand-born opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is to star in an episode of ITV’s hit series Downton Abbey as a house guest, and she will sing during her visit.

Watch Elizabeth McGovern paying tribute to her on-screen mother, Shirley MacLaine, in the clip below:

Downton Abbey is due to return to ITV in September.