Series six of Downton Abbey will definitely be its last, Carnival Films and ITV have confirmed.
An official statement released this afternoon reveals audiences will bid farewell to the Crawleys and their servants with a final Christmas special broadcast this December.
“The Downton journey has been amazing for everyone aboard. People ask if we knew what was going to happen when we started to make the first series and the answer is that, of course we had no idea”, said writer, creator and executive producer Julian Fellowes.
“Exactly why the series had such an impact and reached so many people around the world, all nationalities, all ages, all types, I cannot begin to explain. But I do know how grateful we are to have been allowed this unique experience. I suspect the show will always be a principal marker in most of our careers as we set out from here, and if so, I consider that a blessing and a compliment.”
Speculation about the show’s future had been rife, with Fellowes signed up to work on US drama The Golden Age and Maggie Smith’s future as the Dowager Countless in doubt in recent months.
Downton is the highest rating UK drama of the past decade across any channel, with an average of 11 million viewers over the course of the five series, including Christmas specials. It’s also one of the most successful UK exports, enjoying great success on PBS in the United States and broadcasting in 250 territories worldwide.
“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”, added Gareth Neame, Carnival Films’ managing director and executive producer of Downton Abbey.
“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…”
“We all thought very carefully about the right moment to bring something so special to a close that felt editorially right, and left viewers wanting more,” concluded ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham. “Christmas Day on ITV this year will certainly be one to remember, as the concluding special brings a series to an end that started as a leap of faith for all of us, and ended surpassing all expectations.”
Downton Abbey returns to ITV for its sixth and final series later this year