The Television Academy today seemed to join the chorus of voices calling for a Downton Abbey movie, as the PBS/Masterpiece show clocked 10 nominations for its final season, bringing it to a total 69 for its six-season run. The show will compete in the Outstanding Drama category, with further nominations for Julian Fellowes as a writer and Maggie Smith’s inimitable supporting role as the Dowager Duchess, Lady Violet. Michael Engler is nominated for directing the season finale, with craft nominations for casting, cinematography, costumes, hairstyling, art direction and sound mixing.
Speaking to Deadline immediately after the nominations were announced, Executive Producer Gareth Neame and creator/writer Julian Fellowes said a feature film was still on the cards. “We’ve said we want to do the movie,” Neame notes. “But it’s a complicated thing to put together because the cast are all off doing other things. It’s not a straightforward leap from one thing to the next.”
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Fellowes, who single-handedly wrote every single episode of the show throughout its run, revealed he had plenty of ideas for where Downton might go on its transition to the big screen. “I don’t want to be caught out if suddenly everyone says, ‘Yes, it’s go!'” he laughs. “I don’t want to be stuck. But more than that I can’t really say.”
“Julian and I are enthusiastic to do it,” adds Neame. “And so are the cast, I believe, so hopefully it will happen. There are just no guarantees at the moment.”
Still, the sixth season of the show was one of resolution. Fellowes, is, he says, “like Anthony Trollope”, a fan of happy endings. “We were originally going to finish on five years, and as it got closer we came to the conclusion that we essentially needed a whole season about endings and moving on. We decided to do a sixth year knowing it was the final year. The cast all knew it wasn’t going to be revisited, and so there was a sense of finality. This is what we were going to say about these people, and that would be it.
“But even if there is a film, I don’t think that really alters that, because the rhythm of television is very different from a film. The weekly relationship you have with this medium is quite unique to television. And on a whole the endings this year were happy. Not entirely; I don’t think Carson’s was entirely happy. And there were some others with question marks over them. But I think the whole nation would agree it was time to make Edith happy.”
Fellowes has a busy slate to contend with, above and beyond any potential future Downton commitment. He says he’s focused on clearing the decks, of the Trollope adaptation Doctor Thorne; Half A Sixpence, his musical adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel Kipps; and the stage musical Wind in the Willows. “Once my whole desk is completely clear and bare and shining, I will then begin The Gilded Age,” he says, referring to his much-anticipated NBC drama about the New York upper classes of the 1800s. “I don’t want to do it when I’m tying up those other strings.”
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