In a press conference last week, journalists were treated to an exclusive screening of the first episode of the final series of Downton Abbey, followed by a series of Q&A’s with Executive Producers Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes and Liz Trubridge, along with cast members including Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Joanne Froggatt.

Gareth Neame, Executive Producer said: “Last night at 7pm we wrapped all of the servants. They shot their last scene. It’s an incredibly emotional, moving scene in the very last episode. It was very cleverly scheduled that they had that scene to do and then we clapped them all off the stage. I can tell you that quite a few tears were shed by grown men in the form of butlers and footmen that I never expected to see.

“I think the final season is very strong and I believe the fans of the show around the world will be happy and satisfied with what happens to our characters.”

Maggie Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess, Violet, added: ‘‘I’m just surprised that I got to the end because just before this I’d done about 10 years with Harry Potter. So I felt very old indeed by the time I got to the Dowager. I’m honestly just surprised that I got through it and I’m still here.”

The five times BAFTA-award winning actress paid tribute to the Downton Abbey crew and production team. Maggie continued: “It was extraordinary and incredibly reassuring to see these people day after day and know that they were the first people there and they were the last people to go. You’ve no idea how incredibly exhausting that must be. I do not know how it’s done, quite honestly. And there they are, all of them, and always in a very good mood, which I can’t say for myself.”

Asked what she would be doing next, she replied: “I’m going to be lying down. I believe for quite some time. The other thing I will be doing is watching it. I will get the box set and have a good look. I certainly haven’t watched anything that I’ve done. I have seen some of it. But I want to sit down and look at it all.”

Writer and Creator Julian Fellowes said: “The characters have been so real to me for six years. So I do think you have a little sadness. You do feel rather sorry to say goodbye to these people because I’ve enjoyed the creation. I’m sorry to see them go. I’m very unlikely to be involved in anything that is as successful again and so, of course, I say goodbye to these golden years with a slight pang. But it seems the right time to go while we’re still firing.”

Peter Fincham, ITV’s Director of Television, said: “We loved Downton Abbey from the beginning. It has been a landmark. A wonderful series on ITV. It’s one of those things where it all went right and that’s a fantastic thing. We’re very excited about this last series.”

Downton Abbey was honoured this week with a BAFTA Special Award in recognition of its contribution to television both in the UK and around the world.

It was also announced today that Patricia Hodge (Miranda) would be joining the cast for the final ever episode, the Christmas episode due to air on Christmas Day 2015.

The drama is the most nominated British show in Emmy® history with 59 nominations to date, collecting 11 wins including Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Movie, Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries or a Movie and Outstanding Miniseries or a Movie.  As well as its record-breaking Emmy® nominations, the show has so far amassed nearly 30 other major accolades around the world, including three Golden Globes®, three Screen Actors Guild Awards of which two were for Best Ensemble Cast in a Drama Series, a Producers Guild of America Award, three BAFTA awards and three National Television Awards for Best Drama as voted for by the British public.

Downton Abbey is the highest rating UK drama of the past decade across any channel, with an average of 11 million viewers over the course of the last five series, including Christmas specials.

In the U.S. series 5, had a weekly average audience of 12.9 million viewers over its nine-week run and concluded in March this year having been watched by 25.5 million people.

The Golden Globe®, Emmy®, PGA, BAFTA, National Television Awards and Screen Actors Guild award-winning show, debuted on ITV in 2010 and has since become a global phenomenon.  Downton Abbey is now in over 250 territories worldwide.

On social media the series 5 UK transmission reached new heights with over 60 million tweet impressions, almost 6 million on the top Facebook post and weekly trending across hashtags and conversation points, gaining a social media chart spot week on week.

FACTS:

  • Filming days across all six series – 790
  • S1 – S6 Cast – 255
  • S1 – S6 Crew – 900
  • S1 – S6 Sets – 350 sets designed
  • Drawings – 1000 plus
  • S5 and S6 – 1000 plus wigs used
  • S5 and S6 – 400 original costumes designed and made