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This familiar face will be joining the cast of Downton Abbey. (AP)

There will be even more pushy Americans crowding into Downton Abbey next season.

The show’s producer has announced that Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti will be joining the popular British series for the season-ending special, which airs on Christmas Day in the U.K.

The Sideways star will play Harold Levinson, the playboy brother of Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern), the American heiress wed to the aristocratic owner of the eponymous English country estate where much of the series’ action takes place.

Harold was mentioned in passing during an episode in Season Three when the Crawley women were hoping to persuade Cora’s wealthy mother, Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine), to dig Downton out of debt. The Oscar-winning MacLaine will also be returning to Downton for next season’s holiday episode.

The Telegraph reports Gareth Neame, the supervising producer on the show, as saying, “We’re excited that Paul Giamatti will be joining us on Downton to play Cora’s brother Harold, the rather free-spirited uncle to Mary and Edith. We can’t wait to see him work alongside Shirley MacLaine, who are both sure to upset the Grantham’s apple cart in this year’s Christmas Day episode.”

In other Downton Abbey news:

  • Actor Brendan Coyle, who portrays the hard-luck valet John Bates, told the Radio Times that all will not be sunshine and lollipops going forward for his character, who spent much of Downton’s third season wrongfully imprisoned. “We see a darker and a more determined side to Bates than we’ve seen before in Series Four,” he said. Coyle also stars on Starlings, a comedy series about a dysfunctional family that airs on the Sky1 channel in the U.K. The show, which counts comic star Steve Coogan among its producers, begins its second season July 2.

  • Downton Abbey stars Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael, who play bickering sisters Mary and Edith Crawley on the show, made the scene–though not together–at a VIP party celebrating Monday’s opening day at the Wimbledon tennis tournament in London, according to the Daily Mail. Also attending the event and the tournament’s first matches were actor Ben Whishaw (The Hour), model Naomi Campbell, one-time disco queen Grace Jones and actress Felicity Kendal (Good Neighbors).”

    The ladies get out to enjoy some fun in the sun. (Tumblr)
  • Toast the return of your favorite show with a glass of Downton Abbey brand wine. (Season Four begins airing in the U.K. in September on ITV and stateside in January on PBS.) Wines That Rock, an American company that specializes in licensing wine (it already releases Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd-branded vino), has announced a new line of specially bottled and packaged wines named after the show, according to “Bordeaux Clarets and Bordeaux Blancs bearing the Downton Abbey name will come from grapes grown on the same vines and from the same soil as those from wines in the era depicted in Downton Abbey,” reports the web site. The idea is that these French-made wines are similar to those that the Crawley family’s real life aristocratic peers would have been quaffing in the early 1900s.We’ll drink to that.

Are you excited about Paul Giamatti appearing on Downton Abbey? 

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By Leah Rozen