The End of an Era: Downton Abbey The Final Season Premieres January 3, 2016 on OETA
The top-rated PBS drama of all time approaches its climactic chapter as Downton Abbey enters its sixth and final season on MASTERPIECE, bringing exciting closure to a remarkable series. Where will fate, passion, ambition, and duty lead television’s most beloved characters? Millions of devoted viewers will soon find out on the final season of Downton Abbey, airing in nine enthralling episodes at 8pm CT, Sundays, January 3 – February 21, 2016 with the series finale airing Sunday, March 6, 2016 on MASTERPIECE on PBS. MASTERPIECE is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston.
Making their bittersweet farewell are members of the beloved cast, including Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Laura Carmichael, Brendan Coyle, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Kevin Doyle, Samantha Bond, David Robb, Raquel Cassidy and Michael Fox.
Written and created by Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey is a Carnival Films/MASTERPIECE Co-Production. Carnival Films, headed by Downton Abbey Executive Producer Gareth Neame, is a division of NBCUniversal International Television Studios. With 59 Emmy® nominations, more than any other non-US show in Emmy® history, Downton Abbey is one of the most honored series on television, having captured 12 Emmys®, three Golden Globes®, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Producers Guild Award, and three BAFTAs, plus a 2015 BAFTA Special Award in recognition of the series’ outstanding global success.
Reviewers have been no less impressed, lauding last season as “marvelously sustained” (Wall Street Journal), “delicious as ever” (New York Daily News), and “the perfect way to begin the new year” (Los Angeles Times). Writing of the Season 5 finale, Variety marveled at “just how splendid the show can be—warm, funny, and emotional on a dazzling assortment of fronts.”
Since Downton Abbey’s first season, its audience has grown at a phenomenal rate, more than doubling by Season 5, which reached 25.5 million viewers. The show is consistently one of the most-watched dramas on American television, often beating all competitors in its Sunday night time slot.
Downton Abbey opened Season 1 with a crisis sparked by the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Having weathered the demise of a string of heirs, the horrors of World War I, the Spanish flu, false convictions and romantic betrayals, not to mention the compromising death of a Turkish diplomat in the throes of passion, Downton Abbey is primed for new surprises in Season 6.
Season 6 opens in 1925 with a series of crises reflecting the momentous changes that are transforming society. Women's rights have given Lady Mary and Lady Edith new positions of responsibility: Mary runs the estate, and Edith manages the magazine she inherited from Michael Gregson. Meanwhile, Tom Branson has left for Boston, and newlyweds Lady Rose and Atticus Aldridge are trying their luck in Jazz Age New York. Anna Bates faces a murder charge, though many still suspect her husband. And for the rest of the servants, big doubts hang over their jobs. Will great houses and the fortunes that support them soon be gone?
Explaining the difficult decision to cue the final curtain, Carnival’s Gareth Neame says, “We wanted to close the doors of Downton Abbey when it felt right and natural for the storylines to come together, and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans. We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up.”
Reflecting on the spectacular success of Downton Abbey, which has been the most popular series in the 45 years that MASTERPIECE has been on the air, MASTERPIECE Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton sums up: “We are indebted to our UK partners for making a show that will go down in television history, not just for its impeccable writing, acting, and production values, but most importantly, for its enormously warm-hearted audience appeal.”
Downton Abbey is a Carnival Films/MASTERPIECE Co-Production written and created by Julian Fellowes. The series is Executive Produced by Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes, Liz Trubridge, and Nigel Marchant. Chris Croucher is the Producer. The Executive Producer for MASTERPIECE is Rebecca Eaton. The Senior Series Producer for MASTERPIECE is Susanne Simpson