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Brush up on 'Downton Abbey' with charming BTS footage

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PBS' hit series "Downton Abbey," is slated to begin its fourth season in the U.S. this Sunday, January 5th.

Even if you've watched every episode of the upstairs/downstairs drama, there is plenty of behind-the-scenes material to catch up on as the countdown clock clicks toward the premiere.

All of the material is available on the season three DVD release which can be acquired via Netflix and Amazon, as well as at other retailers.

Here's a brief look at some of that material.

On disc three alone, there are seven separate video files that contain inside information about cast and crew.

"The Men of Downton Abbey," features what might seem like an odd pairing given their roles on the show, but Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) and Rob-James Collier (Thomas) make this nine minute piece, as one of their characters might say, "most enjoyable."

All of the features contain insight from Historical Advisor Alastair Bruce. (Could there be a better name than 'Alastair' for an Historical Advisor?)

Features on both Mary's wedding and Edith's 'almost-wedding' include commentary from Costume Designer Caroline McCall.

All the fuss over the inclusion of American actress Shirley MacLaine in the series is discussed in a segment aptly entitled, "Shirley MacLaine at 'Downton Abbey'." In the piece, various cast members reveal their thoughts about her presence on set. MacLaine herself talks about how she became familiar with the series and how she came to be cast in the series.

With all of the behind-the-scenes features, it's fun to see the actors and actresses from the buttoned-up series in their everyday garb and hairstyles speaking candidly about their work on the show.

Other interesting tidbits revealed in the segments include details about the wagering that went on during the cricket match, the invasion that was a problem during an outdoor scene and the unlikely cast member who asked series writer Julian Fellows for a love story for her character.

Among other series insights, Fellows openly discusses the controversial season finale and the difficulties with airing the tragic storyline in England - on Christmas Day.

Just like the series, the extras are beautifully shot; not a single frame of shaky, low quality video.

These behind-the-scenes tidbits are a unique look into the series that has become a such a phenomenon and, to use a gentle phrase that might be heard on the show, are a true delight as well.

"Downton Abbey" returns to PBS on Sunday, January 5th. Check your local listings for exact air times.

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