Wednesday 28 September 2016

Post-Downton Abbey movie could be wonderful - producer

Published 02/08/2015 | 02:32

Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, on set in Alnwick, Northumberland, for the filming of the final season of Downton Abbey
Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, on set in Alnwick, Northumberland, for the filming of the final season of Downton Abbey
Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, where filming of the final season of Downton Abbey is taking place

Downton Abbey is coming to an end, but its executive producer is offering hope that a follow-up film is at least a possibility.

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By ending the TV drama several years shy of the 1929 stock market crash, producer Gareth Neame says rich territory is left to be mined if a film is made.

He told US TV critics that it had been discussed, but there was no script or a firm plan. He did not specify if it might be a TV or big-screen project.

Neame says a Downtown Abbey movie could be a "wonderful thing".

The series about the upstairs-downstairs occupants of a stately English home will end production on August 15. Its sixth and final season will be shown later this year in the UK and early next year in the United States.

It was time for the series itself to end while still popular and acclaimed, Neame said.

The Television Critics Association panel discussion in Beverly Hills was bitter-sweet as its stars and producers looked back at the drama's past seasons and ahead to its conclusion.

"How are we going to live without it?" said Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of Masterpiece, the PBS showcase for Downton Abbey.

Neame said the last season would bring back some faces from the past, but the focus of the final series is to wrap up storylines for the main cast.

Studio scenes remain to be shot, but production at Highclere, the estate that stood in for Downton Abbey, wrapped recently.

"That was a sort of interesting day," Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham, said of the final taping at Highclere. The cast and crew marked the occasion by taking a "team photo" in the dining room, where the longest scenes were filmed.

Saying goodbye to their fictional Crawley family home was difficult.

"Laura (Carmichael) and I wondered around for the last time," said Michelle Dockery, who played Mary Crawley. "Suddenly we didn't want to go home. It was really funny."

She and Carmichael (Edith Crawley), sat on a garden bench used by Mary and the now-departed Matthew, her husband who was played by Dan Stevens.

They had a bit of a cry, which will likely be the case for the show's fans. It was an international success and is the highest-rated PBS drama.

The actors were asked what they would miss about the series.

"I'll miss being in a hit TV show," said Elizabeth McGovern, who played Cora Crawley, the countess of Grantham.

Besides, Penelope Wilton noted, nothing can go on forever.

"Some of us would be dead. You have to watch for that," said Wilton, who plays Isobel Crawley, the foil and sometimes-foe of Maggie Smith's Violet Crawley.

Press Association

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