Era coming to an end as Downton Abbey returns for final series


Downton Abbey is back tomorrow night, launching the sixth and final series with a 90-minute episode featuring talk of a wedding, intrigue, and uncertainty over the future of the estate. 

The new series will catch up with Downton's inhabitants in 1925. Robert, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), can feel an era coming to an end, as the old aristocratic way of life disappears - and is thinking seriously about how the estate can adapt to the changing times, especially when his friend Sir John Darnley is forced to sell his nearby estate of Mallerton.

Downstairs, Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) and Mr Bates (Brendan Coyle) are waiting anxiously to hear whether they will be cleared of involvement in Mr Green's murder.

Meanwhile, Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and Mr Carson (Jim Carter), who became engaged at the end of the last series, are set to discuss the terms of their marriage. With Mrs Patmore (Lesley Nicol) as an embarrassed go-between, they tackle the issue of whether it will be a "full" marriage - in the bedroom department. 

As viewers catch up with their favourite Downton characters, the cast have been looking back after finishing filming for the last time. 

"When we started this, it was ours and it was so special," recalled Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary.

"That first series was just the most amazing thing, and we never would have imagined that all of these people in 250 territories would fall in love with the show." 

Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith, explained: "It feels a little bit like we're coming out of school, like we're graduating and we've had the best teachers in the business; Hugh and Jim and Maggie [Smith] and Penelope [Wilton] and Phyllis ... It's just the biggest list of people who've led by amazing example."

Dame Maggie Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess, added: "I'm honestly just surprised that I got through it and I'm still here!"

:: Series six of Downton Abbey begins on ITV tomorrow night at 9pm.