Carnival Films and ITV have set a handful of new names to join the cast of Downton Abbey as it heads into its 5th season. Richard E. Grant will play Simon Bricker who visits the estate as a guest of the Granthams. Anna Chancellor (The Hour), fresh off a West End production of Private Lives, is also coming aboard in the guest role of Lady Anstruther. Rade Sherbedgia (Snatch, Taken 2) will play Russian refugee, Kuragin, who has fled the Russian revolution after World War I. Downton executive producer Gareth Neame said, “We are delighted to welcome these talented actors to the world of Downton. The characters they play are set to bring yet more excitement and intrigue to the show.” Returning guest cast member Dame Harriet Walter will also reprise her role as Lady Shackleton, and Peter Egan will return as Lord Flintshire. Last season, the series added a host of actors in key roles, including bringing Paul Giamatti on for the Christmas movie.
Season 4 of Downton saw the period drama’s strongest ever launch in the UK, with 12M viewers and a 40% share. It averaged 11.8M viewers across the run. In the U.S., its January bow hit a record high of 15M viewers. Season 5 will run for the usual eight episodes and a two-hour Christmas special. Returning stars include Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Samantha Bond, Laura Carmichael, Lily James, Allen Leech, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Rob James-Collier, Ed Speleers, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, David Robb, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Daisy Lewis, Douglas Reith, Jeremy Swift and Andrew Scarborough.