Nick Briggs/PBS
Denise Warner
December 27, 2012 AT 09:56 PM EST

News of Dan Stevens’ departure from Downton Abbey hit the States 12 days before season 3 of the series hits our airwaves. And while many American news outlets, EW included, stayed away from saying exactly how Stevens exits the show, simply knowing that Matthew won’t return for the fourth season is a enough of a spoiler.

Downton‘s air schedule has been an issue for those who live in the U.S. and want to experience the show free of spoilers. Since Downton premieres on ITV in the U.K. every fall, and the PBS premiere is typically in January of the following year, spoilers are hard to avoid. Even the most diligent among us will accidentally click on a photo of Michelle Dockery and Stevens only to find out that Matthew proposed to Mary in the season 2 Christmas episode, well before it aired on PBS. Now, with Stevens decision to leave making headlines, those of us in America who haven’t watched it illegally are left confused and frustrated over Matthew’s fate in the new episodes. Not to mention how difficult it is not to read British recaps to find out. (Or is that just me?)

In email to EW, MASTERPIECE publicist Olivia Wong tells EW that PBS “did look into the possibility of airing season 3 closer to the UK broadcast,” and that the “conversation about scheduling [the fourth] will continue.”

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