British network ITV has renewed the critically-acclaimed drama series Downton Abbey for Season 4. The news comes three weeks after the Season 3 finale aired in the U.K., and six weeks before Season 3 debuts in the United States on PBS.

Although an official announcement hasn't been made yet, PBS is expected to air Downton Abbey Season 4 in the U.S. ITV picked up eight new episodes for Season 4, with production scheduled to begin in February 2013. Here is a statement from ITV executive Laura Mackie regarding the news.

"Viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance. We're thrilled to welcome back a drama series that has become a much anticipated part of all our lives every autumn and achieved success around the globe. [Series creator] Julian Fellowes and the production team, led by Gareth Neame and the producer Liz Trubridge, never rest on their laurels and have exciting plans."

ITV will air the show's annual Christmas special on December 25. PBS will debut Season 3 of Downton Abbey January 6, 2013, with a Season 2 recap special Downton Abbey Revisited slated to air November 25.