Six new characters. My favorite description is of one played by Kiri Te Kanawa, below. From PBS:
Carnival Films and MASTERPIECE on PBS announced that six new cast members are joining the Downton Abbey series, plus the return of Shirley MacLaine for next season's finale. The Hollywood star, who reprises her role as Martha Levinson, proved a huge hit with viewers last year when she joined the cast for Lady Mary's wedding to Matthew Crawley. Her sparky relationship with Violet delighted audiences around the world. The series won nine Emmys, two Golden Globes and a coveted Screen Actors Guild Award for the ensemble cast, which is the first time the cast of a British television show has won this award.
Managing Director Carnival Films and Executive Producer Gareth Neame says:
"Downton Abbey has seen many great characters visit the house over the years and we couldn't be more thrilled to welcome the new faces that will be joining the regular cast of Downton Abbey in Season 4. We hope audiences will be as excited about them as we are."
MASTERPIECE Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton says: "The addition of these characters can only mean more delicious drama -- which is what Downton Abbey is all about."
The new cast and characters include:
Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham, an old family friend of the Crawleys who visits the family as a guest for a house party
Nigel Harman as Green, a valet
Dame Harriet Walter as Lady Shackleton, an old friend of the Dowager
Joanne David in a guest role as the Duchess of Yeovil
Julian Ovenden as aristocrat Charles Blake
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as a guest who sings in the house