Countdown to “Downton Abbey’s” Final Season Begins

Masterpiece on PBS’s ‘Downton Abbey’ will premiere its final season on Jan. 3. (PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Briggs, Carnival Films for Masterpiece)

The Abbey is being dissolved.

Not instantly, mind you: Come January, we’ll still get another season of this Masterpiece favorite, the highest rated drama in PBS’s history. But when that upcoming sixth season of Downton Abbey comes to its end, so will the series.

Why now? Producer Gareth Neame, heading up the final Downton panel at the Television Critics Association press tour, says the original idea was to end after the fifth season, but they felt that would rush the story they wanted to tell. And they also felt they could have easily gone on to a seventh or eighth season, but were afraid they’d end up eeking the story out. So they settled on six.

“Maybe we’re leaving a little bit early, but I think on a really high note.”

As has become tradition, Downton will end in Britain with a Christmas special. Neame says it’s because where Americans go to the movies on Christmas, the Brits eat turkey, exchange gifts and watch TV.

“We have no Thanksgiving, so we have to push everything into Christmas day,” says Neame. “People in Britain, you always want to be with your favorite TV characters and TV shows.”

Of course, Downton did kill a favorite character, Matthew, on Christmas. “That was a bit awkward.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Robert Bianco

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