'Downton Abbey' Season 4: O'Brien leaving, Matthew Crawley's funeral being filmed

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siobhan-finneran-downton.jpgSome big news out of the U.K. regarding "Downton Abbey," fans. Siobhan Finneran, who plays the dastardly maid O'Brien on the hit British import, is not returning for Season 4.

Finneran tells the U.K.'s Press Association, "I'm not doing any more. O'Brien is a thoroughly despicable human being -- that was great to play."

A spokesperson for "Downton" confirms Finneran's departure, though adds that it is understood the door is open for a possible return in the future.

Goodness. What will the show do for a villain now? Thomas is hardly still a villain, after all he went through this past season. It'll be interesting to see how the dynamic of the house shifts. Who will be Lady Cora's new lady's maid?

Meanwhile, the cast is back at work filming Season 4. Pictures have hit the 'net of various cast members in the "Downton" village filming what appears to be Matthew Crawley's funeral. We're glad to see his passing is being given its due.

After the season finale, we were terribly worried that (as Lady Violet says) the show would go the way of Greek drama and all the action would happen off screen. If they're going take Matthew away from us and leave Lady Mary a widow, we think we're entitled to see some of the grief. We imagine actors Michelle Dockery and Penelope Wilton, who play Matthew's wife and mother, respectively, will handle the material with aplomb.

"Downton Abbey" returns to the U.K. airwaves in the fall and the U.S. airwaves in January 2014.
Photo/Video credit: PBS