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Shirley MacLaine appears in a scene from the PBS series Downton Abbey. - Provided courtesy of Carnival Films / ITV

Shirley MacLaine returns to 'Downton Abbey,' Siobhan Finneran departs

Get more: TV
03/03/2013 by Nichole Hamilton

"Downton Abbey" is facing some serious changes for season four.

The popular drama series is set to see the return of Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, but will also see the departure of Jessica Brown Findlay and Siobhan Finneran, according to the New York Times.

The 78-year-old Virginia-born actress, who won an Oscar for her role in the 1983 film "Terms of Endearment," will reprise her role as Martha Levinson, the outspoken mother of Cora, on the show's upcoming fourth season.

In January 2012, MacLaine appeared in season 3 of the hit series and introduced her character, Levinson, who served as a foil to the Dowager Countess, played by actress Maggie Smith.

The period drama series, which debuted in 2010, is written by creator Julian Fellowes and tells of the lives of the members of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in England during the reign of King George V, before World War I. Hugh Bonneville plays Lord Robert Crawley. Smith's character, Violet Crawley, plays his mother.

Several other new actors were announced for the fourth season of the series, including Tom Cullen, Harriet Walter who will play Lady Shackleton and Julian Ovenden as Charles Blake. The soprano Kiri Te Kanawa will also appear on "Downton Abbey" as "a guest who sings in the house," according to the news website.

In the past year, the award winning show lost series regulars Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley), Findlay (Lady Sybil) and recently, Siobhan Finneran (the maid).

Earlier this week, Finneran confessed that her scheming character, O'Brien, would not be returning for the fourth season.

"I'm not doing any more," she revealed to the outlet. "O'Brien is a thoroughly despicable human being - that was great to play."

In January, Smith won the 2013 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for her role as Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, in the PBS show, marking her first win for the part and third win and 11th nomination overall. She won Emmys for the show in 2011 and 2012.

A date for the fourth season premiere has yet to be announced.

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