A report surfaced last week revealing that Downton Abbey is ending after Season 6, since the cast members' contracts all expire with this upcoming season, and most of them are ready to move on. Today, Carnival Films and Masterpiece on PBS confirmed that the show will come to an end after Season 6, although executive producer Gareth Neame revealed to E! Online that the producers are contemplating a Downton Abbey movie. Here's what he had to say below.
"Our position on that is we would be very interested in that. It is definitely something we're contemplating. It would be great fun to do. I think it would be a wonderful extension of everything that people loved about the TV show, but I can't confirm that it's definitely going to happen. We shall see."
Series creator Julian Fellowes does have plenty of experience in the movie world, winning an Oscar for his Gosford Park screenplay. He also wrote the screenplays for The Young Victoria, The Tourist and 2013's Romeo and Juliet. When asked about possible plans for a Downton Abbey spinoff, Gareth Neame said there are no current plans in place, but it may happen some day.
"There are no plans to make a spinoff. There's been endless speculation about this, but there are no definite plans for a spinoff. Again, I couldn't rule it out."
The executive producer added that the decision to end the show was made collectively by the cast and crew, revealing that "all of the characters will be in the final season." Here's what he had to say about ending the show now, instead of dragging it out.
"I think our feeling is that it's good to quit while you're ahead. We feel the show is in incredibly strong shape... the show is so popular globally, but the danger with this sort of thing is to let them go on forever. The danger is if you run to seven, eight, nine, 10 years, it's very addictive to want to do that. But I think it's more important to us to make a perfectly formed show, in our opinion, that we bring to an end when they think the timing is right and that people will love and remember that show for many, many years to come and not feel that there was any sort of drop off-we outstayed our welcome."
Season 5, which concluded on March 1, was seen by 25.5 million people. The season had a weekly average audience of 12.9 million viewers over its nine-week run, an audience nearly even with that for Season 4 (13.3 million) (Source: Nielsen Live+7 data). Downton Abbey Season 5 had impressive online streaming numbers as well, with over 12.6 million streams of full episodes across all PBS and station digital platforms, 13 percent more streams compared to Season 4 (Source: Google Analytics, 1/5-3/15/15). A huge presence on social media, Downton Abbey set records for tweets of a PBS show, with Season 5 generating more than 190,000 total tweets and more than 24 million total impressions (Source: Nielsen, 1/4/15 to 3/1/15, live/new). During its nine-week run, Downton Abbey placed in Nielsen Social's Daily Top 5 for series and specials seven times (Source: Nielsen, 1/4/15 to 3/1/15).
Downton Abbey has become an indelible part of the popular culture, parodied by Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, and on Sesame Street and Saturday Night Live. It has been the topic of countless discussions on Twitter and Facebook, and has garnered as much publicity as any series on television, with the acclaimed cast gracing the covers of Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide and appearing on Today, Good Morning America, The View and other popular TV shows.
"The Downton journey has been amazing for everyone aboard. People ask if we knew what was going to happen when we started to make the first series and the answer is that, of course we had no idea. Exactly why the series had such an impact and reached so many people around the world, all nationalities, all ages, all types, I cannot begin to explain. But I do know how grateful we are to have been allowed this unique experience. I suspect the show will always be a principal marker in most of our careers as we set out from here, and if so, I consider that a blessing and a compliment."
Downton Abbey is a Carnival Films/MASTERPIECE Co-Production written and created by Julian Fellowes. It is Executive Produced by Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes, Liz Trubridge and Nigel Marchant. Chris Croucher is the Producer. The Executive Producer for Masterpiece is Rebecca Eaton. The official Twitter account for Downton Abbey released a new photo today featuring the ensemble cast to thank the fans. Take a look at the image below, and stay tuned for more details on the show's sixth and final season.