End of an era
Will the final season of Downton Abbey bring resolution for fans? By MICHELE MANELIS
CAN Lady Edith find happiness? Will Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson experience a “full marriage”? Will Lady Mary find true love again? And what will become of Lord and Lady Grantham – will they move with the times or become as obsolete as the Downton estate itself?
Fans are hoping these questions will be answered as Downton Abbey airs its seventh – and final – season.
On the set at Highclere Castle in Berkshire, about an hour’s drive from London, Laura Carmichael, looks unrecognisable out of costume.
While she agrees her character Lady Edith has had a tough run, she’s hopeful she’ll get her happily-ever-after.
“Yes, bad things have happened to her, but it’s also made her very courageous,” Carmichael says.
“She’s always picked herself up and got on with things. She’s evolved into a more interesting forward-thinking woman than perhaps she would have if she’d married [publisher] Michael Gregson [who died as a result of a military fray instigated by Hitler].
“And I love that she’s discovered writing at a time when unmarried women didn’t even have the vote unless they were over 30.”
Lady Mary has also endured her fair share of doom. But her portrayer, Michelle Dockery, promises this season will bring some relief.
“Lady Mary is over her grief and she’s starting to have fun again,” she says. “Her confidence is back and she’s embracing fashion.
“The thing about Mary is she’s always been true to herself. She’s not going to get married just for the sake of getting married. It needs to be the right person. And actually, in this season, it’s Lady Edith who’s going off into the big wide world more than Mary.”
And what is Lady Grantham’s future in an ever-changing modern world? Elizabeth McGovern previews what lies ahead for her character, saying: “It’s the slow eroding of a way of life each character is contending with in their own way. We find out more about Cora as a character, away from being a wife and mother.”
Hugh Bonneville, who plays manor patriarch Lord Grantham says he is also a fan. “(It has) been like unwrapping a Christmas present reading the scripts because you don’t know what’s inside,” he says.
“You hope by rattling the box you’ll get a good sense of it, but you don’t quite know,” he says. “There have been wonderful surprises over the seasons, but what I will miss the most is that view coming up the drive when you first glimpse the castle. That’s pretty epic.”
Downton Abbey bid farewell to the awards circuit last month with a surprise win for Ensemble in a Drama Series at the prestigious Screen Actors Guild Awards.
“Downton has an appeal for people of all ages and all demographics,” Carmichael says.
“It will be missed as much as we will miss shooting the show. It’s been a life-altering experience for all of us.”
SEVEN, MONDAY, 9PM
Start your engines: Matthew Goode and Michelle Dockery are set for an action-packed final season of DowntonAbbey.