It’s finally official. After months of rumors, Downton Abbey will indeed come to a close with season 6. But there’s a big twist: Producers say they are seriously contemplating a Downton Abbey movie.
“Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years,” said executive producer Gareth Neame. “Inevitably there comes a time when all shows should end and Downton is no exception. 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…”
On a conference call with reporters Thursday Neame said he hopes that a sense of story conclusion will “make the sixth season the most satisfying of them all.”
But the next round might not be all that conclusive after all. Neame revealed that he and series creator Jullian Fellows are in favor of making a Downton movie after the series is over. “We would be very interested in that,” he said. “[A movie is] definitely something we’re contemplating, it would be great fun to do.”
There’s no deals in place for such a project yet, however. Neame also said there are currently no plans in place for a Downton spin-off, either.
The producer refused to give any details about the content of the final season except to suggest the time-period setting: “We are certainly moving into 1925, but I won’t say more about the new season than that.”
One aspect of the show’s legacy that some fans feel crippled the narrative was its failure to secure actors in long-term contracts early on. Most notably, Downton had to kill off the very popular Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) at the end of the third season since Stevens wouldn’t re-sign. Yet Neame said the show was better for Stevens having forced their hand. “It made the show at times edgier and gave us dramatic rocket fuel,” he said. “Really the best thing that could have happened to the story is that Mary ended up being a widow. It made seasons 4 and 5 all the stronger for it. I can’t imagine the show had he stayed.”
Downton Abbey is PBS’ most popular drama of all time, with the most recent fifth season having averaged 12.9 million viewers on PBS.
Here’s a photo from the season 6 table read:
In a related video, Downton cast members play Cards Against Humanity: