Wednesday, April 24, 2024

“Downton Abbey” Furor: Is Season Six Its Last, or Will PBS Go for One More?


Is “Downton Abbey” over? TVLine is saying season six, currently filming, is the end. But no one’s on the record. The operating theory is that the actors’ second contract for three years ends with this season. (The Brits sign three year contracts.) But that doesn’t mean anything. One or two year deals are easy to cut, and after the sbrupt exits of Dan Stevens and Jessica Findlay Brown, the other “Downton” actors see that life after the Abbey isn’t always rainbows and cookies.

So what is going on? Last week I was talking to PBS sources and they insisted they still didn’t know what show creator Julian Fellowes had in mind. Maggie Smith’s comments about the Dowager Countess being 110 were taken out of context. They’re still being repeated– on TVLine– but in fact they were retracted on March 3rd. A press release went out reassuring fans that Dame Maggie would stick with the show until the end.

For some, the show is ready to end. All that remains is for Mary to find happiness with Matthew Goode’s new character, Henry Talbott, and for Edith to find someone to be a father for her baby. Brandon (Allen Leech) is gone, and so is Rose (Lily James). The only new characters for season six are Talbott and the estate agent. Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes are set to marry, the Bateses will probably get pregnant. I am told that Penelope Wilton’s Mrs. Crawley will marry Dr. Clarkson in Season Six. So that could be it.

PBS will be hard pressed to lose “Downton Abbey.” So will ITV in London. But the British ratings for “Downton” are down. And PBS here never released overnights on the season five finale. We may get the ratings for the whole season this week, along with the announcement that the end is here. But please, no one wants to see the episode of Violet (Smith) kicking the bucket. Let’s hope we’re spared that.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News