Downton and out - but an Abbey Christmas for finale

The Downton Abbey Series 5 cast
The Downton Abbey Series 5 cast
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DOWNTON ABBEY will bow out at the end of the next series. The period drama which has attracted millions of viewers around the world, is set in an English country house and has made stars of many of its cast.

Creator Julian Fellowes said: “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.”

Executive producer Gareth Neame said: “Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years. Inevitably there comes a time when all shows should end and Downton is no exception.”

The show regularly pulls in around 11 million viewers in the UK and is viewed in hundreds of countries around the world.

Jim Carter, Dame Maggie Smith and Jeremy Swift during a 'Downton Abbey Series 6' read through at the The Savoy Hotel in London

Jim Carter, Dame Maggie Smith and Jeremy Swift during a 'Downton Abbey Series 6' read through at the The Savoy Hotel in London

It has won Golden Globes, Emmys and Bafta awards along the way.

The show, filmed at Highclere Castle, features a mixture of established stars including Dame Maggie Smith and up-and-coming actors.

It has followed the fortunes of the Crawley family, and the people who work for them, from the sinking of The Titanic through the First World War and beyond.

It has helped launch the careers of actors including Michelle Dockery, Lily James and Dan Stevens, and featured guest appearances by names including Kiri Te Kanawa, Shirley MacLaine and - in a sketch for an ITV charity show - George Clooney.

The last series will have nine episodes, with the last one shown on Christmas Day.

Asked about a possible Downton film, Mr Neame said: “We would be very interested in that. It’s definitely something we’re contemplating.”