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It’s been just a few days since we learned that Downton Abbey will be finishing out its run after Season 6. However, new reports indicate the show almost lived on, just without prolific showrunner Julian Fellowes. If it had worked out, Fellowes would have handed off the series to another writer or set of writers so he could move on to pursue other projects.
The owners of Carnival Films, ITV and NBC, reportedly tried to coerce Fellowes into letting someone else run the Downton Abbey gig. The report comes from Radio Times, who says that Fellowes was apprehensive to the idea, believing that Downton Abbey is really his baby. He kind of has a point. Julian Fellowes is the showrunner on Downton Abbey, but he also has written every single episode of the hit ITV and PBS series. Other people may have been as competent at getting the period details right, but the show would no longer have the Julian Fellowes touch, and he didn’t want that. Apparently, the man has enough clout that his wish to end Downton is being fulfilled after next season.
Around the time that Season 6 was announced as the drama’s last, we also learned that the cast’s contracts were coming up, and many people involved with production were ready to move on to other projects. A few weeks prior to ITV’s announcement, Maggie Smith stated that she didn’t feel her character could go on after Season 6. The hit series has already seen plenty of actors and actresses leave, including Dan Stevens, and at the end of Season 5 characters Rose and Tom seemed to be moving on. So probably it's better for all parties involved that they can move on to other projects.
Regardless, there should still be plenty to look forward to as Season 6 wraps up. Namely, Lady Mary is still looking to find a suitable husband, while Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson will be beginning a new chapter of their lives together. And I’m strangely interested in seeing where Daisy’s future as an educated woman is going.
Downton Abbey’s fifth season has already wrapped up on ITV and PBS, but we will get one more set of episodes next TV season. In the meantime, although the networks and production company won’t be able to hold on to its cash cow, Julian Fellowes is reportedly already working on his period drama for NBC, The Gilded Age. And other reports have indicated that PBS’ Masterpiece is already looking to get another drama from Fellowes. The man is in pretty high demand at this point. It’s too early to tell how all this will shake out, but I’m guessing there will be another period drama from the producer on the air sometime soon.