'Downton Abbey' May Not End Happily For Every Character, Hints Exec Producer Gareth Neame

'Downton Abbey's new series is on its way to screen - for the sixth and final time, and there's good news and bad news.

The good news is that exec producer Gareth Neame, while giving little away, has promised the stunning home of Downton - Highclere Castle in real life - won't be blown up or otherwise wrecked in some huge dramatic finale.

"It is not Downton pulling up the drawbridge, not a thunderbolt that destroys it,” he reveals. “The camera will move away."

"Not every character will have a happy ending," says producer Gareth Neame of the final series of Downton Abbey

However, the bad news is that he can't guarantee every character will get to walk off happily into the sunset, when the curtains finally close on the show that has claimed viewers' hearts since it debuted in 2010.

"We don't have to have completely happy endings," Gareth tells the Guardian. "But for the audience.. it is an overwhelmingly positive show, even when melancholic."

What we do know is that the new series is set firmly in the flapper age of 1925, which makes it 13 years in real time since the show began (news of the Titanic sinking punctuated the very first episode). And Lord Grantham might keep hold of his money, with Gareth Neame saying it would be unfair for him to have to endure the Wall Street Crash - "he has had to endure too much."

The series continues to draw in millions of viewers around the world, where it has been sold to 250 territories, and neither ITV nor US channel Masterpiece were keen for it to end. Instead, the decision is being reported as a joint one between Gareth Neame, writer Lord Julian Fellowes and the actors, apparently.

“I am very conscious, finishing the show earlier is a classic thing, quitting while ahead. I prefer that to [being] two years down the line and we couldn’t secure an actor," says Gareth.

This decision takes into account the previous departures of Dan Stevens and Jessica Brown Findlay, whose characters were both killed off when the actors decided to make their break for the big screen.

”The direction of travel is tying things up for the 20 characters, [with] some conclusions focused on the heroes," says Gareth.

Gareth admits, however, that finally saying goodbye will be full of “bittersweet emotions … It’s going to be a very, very different life without Downton.”

So what CAN we hope for in the final series? Here are 8 things we NEED to happen before the final dinner bell tolls...

Love downstairs

8 Things That Need To Happen In Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey's final series airs soon.

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