Producers of the ITV hit series Downton Abbey have revealed that the next series of the costume drama will be the last and the final episode will air on Christmas Day.
Julian Fellowes’ progamme documenting the lives of the fictional Crawley family and their staff has become a worldwide success and made household names of its cast, the Daily Mail reports.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Gareth Neame said: “We wanted to close the doors of Downton Abbey when it felt right and natural for the storylines to come together and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans.”
“We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up.”
Writer Lord Fellowes, whose next project will be another period drama entitled The Gilded Age, but set in New York, said the “Downton journey has been amazing for everyone aboard.”
“People ask if we knew what was going to happen when we started to make the first series and the answer is that, of course we had no idea,” he said.
“Exactly why the series had such an impact and reached so many people around the world, all nationalities, all ages, all types, I cannot begin to explain.”
“But I do know how grateful we are to have been allowed this unique experience.”
As well as making household names of Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery and providing stepping stones for young cast members such as Lily James who won the title role in the latest Disney film ‘Cinderella’ it has played host to an array of guest stars including Richard E Grant and Shirley MacLaine.
But as well as its outstanding successes including being the most nominated British show in Emmy history, with 51 nominations to date, 11 wins and three Golden Globes for the show’s cabinet, it has also seen itself at the centre of controversy.
Most recently, the death of the Earl of Grantham’s Labrador Isis made many wonder if the golden pooch had been strategically killed off because she shared a name with the terrorist group – although as with the dog seen in the opening credits, Pharaoh, she was named after the Egyptian.
ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham, said the nine-episode series would come to an end with a special episode on Christmas Day which would see the story lines tied up neatly.
But for Die Hard Downton fans, there was good news as the producer did not rule out a potential film spin off. Speaking to journalists, Neame said it was “definitely something we’re contemplating”.
Peter Fincham, ITV’s director of television, said the nine-episode sixth series would come to an end with a “concluding special” on Christmas Day.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, however, Neame did not dismiss talk of a potential film spin-off, saying it was “definitely something we’re contemplating.”
In an internal note, managers said, ‘Whilst we are all sad to see Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame’s unique drama approaching its natural conclusion, the difficult decision has been taken to wrap up production while the show is still at its peak – in popularity, as well as in the quality of the storylines and the series overall.
‘Rather than allow any further media speculation about the show’s future, we want to use today’s announcement to build anticipation for the momentous final season’.
Hugh Bonneville, who plays Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, said he was excited to see his character’s story conclude.
The 51-year-old actor said, ‘It’s still so loved around the world and, really, when it came towards the conclusion of our last contract [writer] Julian [Fellowes] personally said I want to write one more, there’s one more push I want to do in terms of bringing all the characters in to land properly rather than rushing it so that’s what I’m doing now and it’s going to be quite an extraordinary experience.’
As well as the glamorous cast and glittering costumes, Downton will be most remembered for the acerbic wit and one liners, the majority of which came from The Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Dame Maggie Smith.
Top Five Dowager Countess Quotes
At the death of Kamal Pamouk, the ‘Turkish Gentlemen’:
“Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house”
On being told she hates to be wrong:
“I wouldn’t know, I’m not familiar with the sensation”
Responding to her granddaughter learning how to drive:
“Edith, you are a Lady, not Toad of Toad Hall.”
Commenting on the aftermath of a debate at the dinner table between the Earl and a socialist teacher:
“Principles are like prayers; noble, of course, but awkward at a party.”
And on how her Granddaughter should consider her future with the new middle class heir to Downton:
“I’m a woman, Mary. I can be as contrary as I choose.”
And some final bon mots:
“There’s nothing simpler than avoiding people you don’t like. Avoiding one’s friends, that’s the real test.”