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We’ve known for a while that Downton Abbey will end after Season 6. With the series finale approaching, showrunner Julian Fellowes has already gotten some TV-related ideas in the works, and this weekend, it was revealed that Fellowes is developing yet another period drama with ITV. This one will be based on Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne, and unlike Downton, the endeavor will only have three parts.
If you aren’t up on your Victorian era novels, Doctor Thorne follows the pre-marital affair between a young woman named Mary Scatcherd and a young man named Henry Thorne. An illegitmate baby results, and that child suffers through several trials and tribulations upon reaching a marriageable age. That’s the basic plot, but clearly, there’s a lot more drama and intrigue in Trollope’s novel. It should make a great mini over at ITV, and the Downton creator seems like a particularly perfect person to adapt it.
According to Deadline, Trollope is Fellowes’ favorite author from the period, and he is set to executive produce the project with Chris Kelly and Ted Childs. Thankfully, the three-part project is definitely happening. Reports indicate that Doctor Thorne will begin shooting later in 2015. While ITV is a British station, with a little luck, maybe PBS will pick this one up in the States, as well. If it's a hit, it would be a surprise if they didn't.
Doctor Thorne isn’t the only project Fellowes already has in the works for after Downton Abbey finishes shooting. He’s also behind the series The Gilded Age, which has long been buzzed about over at NBC. The American, high society-based series is set in the late 19th century and may even include cameos from younger versions of Downton Abbey characters. PBS’ Masterpiece programming has also been in talks with Fellowes about a potential new drama. With Doctor Thorne and The Gilded Age in the works, this seems less probable, but not an impossibility. He's certainly talented enough to create new projects, but it seems unlikely he would choose to spread himself so thin so quickly. In fact, it would probably be better if he spaced everything out in order to build the proper foundation himself.
All is not over yet for Downton Abbey fans. Much of the main cast will be returning for Season 6, which will air in the UK next fall and will likely hit US televisions early in 2016. We’ll keep you updated as Downton Abbey moves into Season 6. With any luck, the beloved program will end on the high note it deserves, and Doctor Thorne and The Gilded Age will start off on the right foot.