'Downton Abbey': Here's what we can expect for the upcoming season

The fifth season finale aired on March 1 in the U.S., and 'Downton' creator Julian Fellowes and producer Gareth Neame have revealed some of what we'll see during season six.

Courtesy of (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2014 for Masterpiece
'Downton Abbey' stars Elizabeth McGovern (l.), Hugh Bonneville (second from l.), Maggie Smith (center), Michelle Dockery (second from r.), and Allen Leech (r.).

For “Downton Abbey” fans, the wait until the arrival of the next season in America (traditionally after it first airs in the UK) can seem like forever. But those behind the “Downton” scenes have dropped a few hints about what viewers can expect to see during the next installments. 

The British show “Downton” stars Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, and Elizabeth McGovern, among others, and centers on a well-to-do family living in England and the servants who wait on them. The show began in 1912 and is now taking place in the 1920s. The fifth season of “Downton” concluded on March 1 in America.

Recent comments by star Smith, who portrays the grandmother Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, have some fans worried about how long she’ll be on the show. Smith pointed out how much time has passed in the “Downton” universe. “They say this is the last one, and I can’t see how it could go on,” she said of the sixth season in an interview with the Sunday Times. “I mean, I certainly can’t keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We’re into the late 1920s.”

So viewers will have to stay tuned to see how long the Dowager Countess will hang around. As for the characters on screen, the recent season finale included butler Carson proposing to housekeeper Mrs. Hughes. Does wedded bliss await them? 

“’Downton’ is a bumpy path,” “Downton” creator Julian Fellowes said of Carson and Mrs. Hughes' future in an interview with the New York Times

In other romantic developments, eldest Crawley daughter Mary seemed intrigued by Henry Talbot, a guest at a shooting parade she attended. “Downton” producer Gareth Neame wouldn’t say in an interview with Entertainment Weekly whether the character would be sticking around, but it certainly seems like a lot of care went into creating the character and deciding who would play him.

“We like this idea that Mary has now been single for a while, and she’s had enough time to grieve her marriage and to honor her late husband, but to know that she will marry again one day,” Neame said of creating the character of Henry. “She just has no idea who. That’s why she’s had all of these different suitors that she’s considered, but she hasn’t done anything about it. I’m also interested in how her first marriage to Matthew was relatively straightforward, and when you get married a second time, whether because of divorce or bereavement, it’s much more complicated. A mature marriage in your thirties compared to a first relationship in your twenties, there’s a lot more at stake, and I think that’s interesting.”

As for casting actor Matthew Goode in the part, Neame said, “We really like Matthew, and we’ve been interested in him being on the show for a while. We liked the idea of what it would be like if he met Michelle’s character. We thought it worked well.”

Valet Bates and maid Anna, who are married, have been involved in a plot for some time now involving the murder of a valet named Green. Green had raped Anna and Bates was initially suspected of her murder, then Anna became the newest suspect. At the end of the most recent season finale, other Downton servants found evidence that seemed to prove that Bates was not in London, where Green was murdered, on the day the crime occurred and the witness who cast suspicion on Anna seemed to rethink what he or she had said. However, Neame said the plotline isn’t over. 

“Mr. Green was a very complicated, dark individual, and the ramifications of all of that are still haunting them,” he told EW. “They’re going to continue giving us story fuel with more episodes to come.”

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