Redundancies, punch-ups and ‘For Sale’ signs – is this what’s going to happen in Downton Abbey: the Finale?

Ellie Walker-Arnott looks ahead to the final EVER episode of the hit ITV period drama - and plays her patented guessing game for the last time...

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Brace yourselves for tears and quite possibly tantrums. This Christmas Day is going to be dramatic, and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with disappointing presents, burnt birds or offensive aunties. 

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At 8:45pm on ITV, Downton Abbey is bowing out. The Crawleys and their staff are set to say their final farewells and we’re going to be tear-soaked messes by the end of it. Whatever happens.

There are plenty of loose ends we’d quite like tied up. A hefty list of demands: wedding vows for Edith, a baby for the Bates family, romance for Daisy, a viable financial future for the Abbey. 

But when it comes to the actual plot of the festive special, we are, as usual, in the dark. So what else can we do? For the final time, let’s make some spurious suggestions… 

They’ve been saying it for years, but times really are changing. The Abbey is on the market and a hefty ‘For Sale’ sign stands on that sweeping gravel drive to prove it. But, disappointingly, interest is limited.

Robert has sought out advice from property moguls, and decided to brighten the place up a little to attract potential buyers. He was going to go for Magnolia, as advised, but Lemon Yellow was on special offer at Downton’s paint supplier. And until contracts are exchanged, money is tight…

The future might be uncertain, but a last Christmas must be appropriately celebrated. Lady Mary simply insists.

You know how everyone says this time of year is extra special when children are around? Well, actually, she couldn’t disagree more. The Abbey is teaming with small humans these days, but it’s still Queen Mary who gets to put the angel on the top of the tree. In fact, George, Sybbie and Marigold have been locked up in the nursery so they don’t get in the way, or worse, get their grubby fingerprints on the glass baubles. 

Over in the village, Dr Clarkson is feeling lonesome. He keeps trying to discuss the future of the hospital but no one’s interested anymore.

All the serious medical cases and interesting skin conditions are now heading to York instead of the tiny village infirmary, so he’s twiddling his thumbs. And also hanging around by the road side hoping for a serious accident…

The end is nigh, standards are slipping, Carson has been left to serve the dinner on his own and it’s all too much. One negative word from Mr Branson was the straw that broke the Butler’s back – he’s a former chauffeur after all and represents all that is wrong with this brave new world – and a punch-up is set to ensue. 

But then it wouldn’t be Friday night at the Abbey without a commotion in the dining room. Let’s all just thank the God of Period Drama that no one got blood on the table cloth this time.  

Thomas Barrow’s employment has long been on shaky ground, but now he’s got the most important job of all.

Clipboard in hand, he’s organising the evacuation of the Abbey. Now the sprawling country pile has found new owners, most of the staff have been given the heave-ho, so Thomas is packing everyone off into cabs, with kind words and firm handshakes. It’s a sombre affair and naturally the staff have donned mourning dress in respect, but Thomas is struggling to keep that smug smile off his face. He’s clearly planning a massive rave once they’ve all toddled off… 

The stars have aligned for Septimus Spratt. The Crawleys are looking for new ways to spend their ample free time, now that taking tea and wandering through empty corridors is no longer an option, while the rest of the gang are scrabbling around to find a new path, but he’s scored big.

He’s just been told that he – or rather his agony aunt alter-ego Miss Cassandra Jones – is getting a spinoff radio show where he’ll be advising the nation (and starring in Radio Times magazine).

Naturally, Denker is disgusted at the prospect which makes his success even sweeter. 

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Downton Abbey concludes on Christmas Day at 8:45pm on ITV