Series six of Downton will be dog-less: Isis has not been replaced

Hugh Bonneville tells RadioTimes.com that Lord Grantham's late labrador has no successor in series six

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It is probably the most famous dog’s bottom in TV history.

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In the opening credits of Downton Abbey a labrador follows a man in toff’s tweeds – presumably Hugh Bonneville’s Lord Grantham – outside the stately home otherwise known as Highclere Castle on a glorious summer’s day.

But now it appears that his lordship will be dog-less for the sixth (and in all likelihood final) series, which is due to air later this year.

Hugh Bonneville has told RadioTimes.com that Lord Grantham’s canine companion Isis has not been replaced in the new run following his onscreen death last year. Bonneville is midway through shooting the new series and tells RadioTimes.com that so far he’s not shared any a camera time with a successor. 

A Downton Abbey spokeswoman declined to comment on the storyline but confirmed that if Isis is not replaced and there is no Labrador in the show, the credits will stay the same for series six.

Isis’ tragic demise from cancer in episode five of the last series led some to speculate that the pooch was killed off because she shared her name with Islamic State – which Bonneville found rather annoying.

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“Anyone who genuinely believes the series five storyline (1924) involving the animal was a reaction to recent world news is a complete berk,” he said.

It seems creator Julian Fellowes has decided to play it safe this time round – despite his promise last year that Isis would be replaced.

“The first was Pharaoh, the second Isis, the third one will be Tutankhamun or something,” he said, revealing the in-joke surrounding the choice of Ancient Egyptian names for the two labradors.

The choice of names is a sly nod to the fact that Highclere Castle, where all five series of the period drama have been filmed, is also home to a number of ancient Egyptian artefacts. That is because the fifth Earl Lord Carnarvon was involved in the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings during the 1920s.

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There’s no word yet on whether the opening credits (below) will be changed – or whether that famous bottom will outlive its owner.