The final series of Downton Abbey will air later this year with the last episode on Christmas Day. Lucy Handley has an audience with Maggie Smith and gets a sneak preview of the first episode.
• The final episode of Downton Abbey series six to be screened on Christmas Day 2015
• If ‘Downton the movie’ happened it would be a “whole other medium to enjoy”, according to producers
• Downton Abbey is broadcast in more than 250 territories around the world
• The ITV series received a BAFTA Special Award this week and has won three Golden Globes and 11 Primetime Emmy awards
There were emotional scenes last night for the cast and crew of Downton Abbey, one of the UK’s most successful TV series, as those in the servants’ quarters finished filming the final episode, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day 2015.
Speaking at an exclusive press screening of the first episode of series six, Dame Maggie Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham, said she had only seen ‘some’ of the show. Asked what she will be doing next she said: “I’m going to be lying down. I believe for quite some time.
“The other thing I will be doing is watching it. I will get the box set and have a good look. I certainly haven’t watched anything that I’ve done. I have seen some of it. But I want to sit down and look at it all.”
High50 was invited to the screening followed by a Q&A session with Dame Maggie and members of the production team.
We can’t reveal anything about what happens in the show, but the Duchess will return in a final series that is “very strong,” according to executive producer Gareth Neame.
“I believe fans around the world will be happy and satisfied with what happens to our characters,” he said.
In writing a series that has had success around the world (160m people watch in China alone) creator Julian Fellowes said he wanted Downton Abbey to finish on a high. “I’m very unlikely to be involved in something that is as successful again and so, of course I say goodbye to these golden years with a slight pang. But it seems the right time to go while we’re still firing.”
A film version of the series is something fans will undoubtedly long for after the series has finished. But what form would it take, and when would it be set? “That remains to be seen,” said Gareth.
“It has to be just like the TV show but at the same time completely different. [It will be a] whole other medium to enjoy if and when it ever happens.”
Dame Maggie paid tribute to the Downton crew, of which there were 900 across all the series. “It was extraordinary and incredibly reassuring to see these people day after day and know that they were the first people there and they were the last people to go.
“You’ve no idea how incredibly exhausting that must be. I do not know how it’s done, quite honestly. And they are, all of them, and always in a very good mood, which I can’t say for myself.”
Downton Abbey has won critical as well as commercial success, and on Tuesday night it was honoured by BAFTA with a special award. A TV programme, BAFTA Celebrates Downton Abbey, will be broadcast this winter.