“Since the day we announced we were going to do a series two I have been asked that question [about when it will end],” he revealed at the RadioTimes covers party. “This wouldn’t be overstating it to say it has been about twelve times a day [now].
“And it’s really the only question you get asked and it’s a bit sad. How about the fact that the ratings on the first of this current season were the highest ratings of any show in America?
“Downton Abbey is the most popular show in America out of everything and yet all anyone wants to ask is when it is going to end.”
Early last year, creator Julian Fellowes admitted that production on his new 19th century New York drama The Gilded Age had been held up because of his Downton commitments, and he has always maintained he would not work on both.
So what is happening?
“We are not going to embark on that show [The Gilded Age] until we have moved on from Downton so it’s some way off yet,” said Neame enigmatically.
The producer also noted that the Downton cast had just returned from Los Angeles where they picked up the Screen Actors’ Guild Award for best ensemble.
“That’s beating all the top shows in America. That’s Breaking Bad, that’s House of Cards, that’s Game of Thrones, all of the biggest shows. We are right up there. Joanne Froggat [Downton’s Anna Bates] won a Golden Globe award for her work on season four of Downton [as well].”
Neame said that the show is more recognised by US than British award shows, having never won the Bafta best drama award, although he pointed out that it had taken home the viewer-voted National Television Award for best drama three times.
“There’s a different between American awards and British awards. American awards out and out support the big successful shows. The more successful you are the more viewers, the more likely you are to win awards.
“Here we have a tradition of respecting the talent, the quality shows that perhaps haven’t been noticed in the same way… So there’s a very very different tradition about awards.”