What’s going on is this: Downton had already been renewed for a sixth season, which will likely screen in the UK this September and in America beginning in early January 2016. However, many of the cast’s contracts are ending following Season 6, and internet scuttlebutt says that many of them are ready to move on to other projects.
Popular entertainment site TV Line is now reporting that “multiple sources” have confirmed to them that Season 6 will, officially, be the show’s swan song.
“You can keep the show going without Matthew and Sybill, but you can’t continue it without the entire Crawley family,” an unnamed “insider” told TV Line.
Of course, none of these “multiple sources” or “insiders” have agreed to be named, and NBC Universal (parent company of Downton produer Carnival) apparently declined to comment when asked about it. So, it’s still probably wise to take this news with a fairly large grain of salt until something official is announced either by ITV or PBS regarding the show’s future.
That said, the rumor does make a certain amount of sense. Earlier this year, Dame Maggie Smith herself commented during an interview that she wasn’t sure how she could continue on with the show past Season 6. While producers claimed that the show has only ever been renewed on a year-by-year basis, it now seems as though the iconic actress may have been in some way prescient.
And, on top of all that, wrapping up Downton this season allows creator Julian Fellowes to plan a satisfying send-off for the beloved costume drama, as well as eventually turn his attention to his long-planned NBC series The Gilded Age, which is meant to focus on Manhattan society in the 19th century.
Of course, these facts probably don’t do much to make any fan feel better at prospect of only getting one more year with the Crawley clan. Still, there’s something to be said for going out on top – and for having enough advance notice to plan real, proper, satisfying endings for these characters we love so much. (Or, depending on how you felt about certain Season 5 storylines – you might be feeling something like relief at the prospect that some of the show’s most repetitive plots will likely be done for good.)
Plus, I’m still holding out hope for a prequel one of these days.
What do you think? Is it time for Downton to wrap things up?