Dan Stevens: Out of Downton Abbey Season 4?

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Downton Abbey Season 4 is a go, according to ITV. It will begin production in February and be comprised of eight episodes, including the show's annual Christmas special.

But before fans of this British smash celebrate too much, consider the following report: Dan Stevens will NOT return to the series next year in the key role of Matthew.

Mary and Matthew

While the network is yet to confirm this news, a source tells The Daily Mail that Stevens will "probably do the first episode of the fourth series, but that will be it."

The reasons behind Stevens' departure are unclear at the moment, but it's safe to presume this is the actor's decision and that the series would not want to lose one half of its main couple.

Matthew and Mary, of course, are scheduled to be married on Downton Abbey Season 3, which kicks off in the U.S. on January 6.

The season has already aired in Great Britain, however, so American viewers should not expect Matthew to be written out over the course of these next few episodes.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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