Sadness as Downton Abbey draws to a close
Downton Abbey stars have spoken of their sadness that the hugely successful period drama is drawing to a close.
Jim Carter, who plays butler Mr Carson, said it was probably "the right time" but added that the cast would "miss it enormously" when the ITV show bows out later this year after series six and a Christmas special.
Speaking at The Downton Abbey Ball in aid of Centrepoint at London's Savoy Hotel, Carter said: "It's probably the right time - everything has to come to an end, but we shall miss it enormously.
"I shall miss the fact that it's dictated my life for the last six years, but then there's always the challenge of doing something new so that's alright, I'll take it in my stride."
Allen Leech, who left his role as Tom Branson last year, agreed: "I think we all knew for a while it was going to end and there is a sense of sadness but also a sense of achievement about what we've done with the show. It's the right time for it to finish."
Samantha Bond, who plays Lady Rosamund, said she would not waste a moment of the final series which is currently being filmed.
"You know you're coming to the end of something so you grasp everything, each moment, to enjoy and savour," she said.
Elizabeth McGovern, who plays the Countess of Grantham, drew parallels between the plot and real life, saying of the family: "Their lives are being eroded in the story, soon to be totally annihilated, as is the series, so there's something very bitter sweet about seeing that played out."
Meanwhile, Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith, was in no doubt about who would be the most upset in the cast: "We were asked who was going to cry the most and everyone said me. I would say me too, I'm the weak one."
And Sophie McShera, who plays kitchen maid and aspiring student Daisy, added that floods of tears from the cast were just around the corner.
"We're not getting maudlin yet, crying and saying 'this is our last scene in the kitchen', but I think we will," she said. "I'm not going to think about it yet, it's too weird."
On what she would like to see happen to her character, she continued: "I want Daisy to get her exams. I know Mrs Patmore wants a dog, but I think that's maybe not going to happen."
Carter said he hoped his character's romance with housekeeper Mrs Hughes would continue: "I'll leave that to Julian Fellowes (series creator) but Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes have got to get together, haven't they?"
Lesley Nicol, who plays cook Mrs Patmore, said one of her favourite moments from the programme was when guest star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sang: "We all went and watched her rehearsal at 8am and no one had ever heard anything like it."
She added: "We've had a laugh, it's been a very special group of actors, a good company of actors."
Some of the stars also addressed the rumours that Fellowes is plotting a Downton film.
Bond said: "I have only heard it as a rumour as well, but obviously everyone would be delighted to do it.
"It's a question of how do you get everyone in the right place and people back together again at the same time."
Asked if she would take part, Carmichael said: "I don't know, I'd have to have a look at the script, if Julian writes one."
Hugh Bonneville, who stars as Lord Grantham, Michelle Dockery, who plays his daughter Lady Mary, and Rob James-Collier, who plays butler Thomas Barrow, were also guests at the star-studded event.