File this under “least surprising news of the day.” According to a story by the RadioTimes, there was almost a Downton Abbey Season 7. ITV was prepared to renegotiate with the cast and pay whatever it took to keep enough key players to push the series forward. There was just one problem.
Fellowes was done. If you read between the lines of his commentary on the DVDs and in the Downton script books, he never meant for the show to go this long in the first place, but his original intended ending (which included Matthew and Mary breaking out and Matthew moving to America) was foiled when Stevens wouldn’t play ball and come back for one final season.
And try as they might, ITV could not convince Fellowes to allow the show to continue under another showrunner’s direction.
Fellowes is due to begin work on his new NBC period drama The Gilded Age and has always said he could never write it at the same time as Downton. But it is understood that appeals to allow another writer to take over the ITV show fell on deaf ears.
We first reported this on Monday when it was still in the “not getting denied” rumor stage. But yesterday the press releases started flowing, and the rumor became official. Downton Abbey‘s Season 6 will be the last.
Carnival’s Managing Director and Executive Producer of “Downton Abbey,” Gareth Neame said, “Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years. 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…”
Neame is putting a good face on it of course, but no one could miss how disinterested Fellowes was becoming with the series this last go round. But as they stated on the conference call, this might not be the last time you see the Crawley clan. Both Neame and Fellowes say they want to do a movie.
ITV and PBS have not confirmed it, but since the story came out on Friday afternoon and there hasn’t been a peep of denial, we can guess that TVLine has the scoop correctly. This coming season of Downton Abbey will indeed be the last one.
As TVLine explains, they’re probably not going to have much choice in the matter.
The decision to end Downton was mostly a practical one — the cast’s contracts expire at the end of Season 6 and, with one or two possible exceptions, the actors are ready to move on.
“You can keep the show going without Matthew and Sybill, but you can’t continue it without the entire Crawley family,” an insider notes.
Either they are ready to move on, or they’re going to demand so much money to stay that ITV will stop reaping massive profits from the show.