Suffice to say that Downton Abbey has had its fair share of disastrous endings, climactic Christmas specials, and suspicious servants. However, it all drew to a rather more pleasant conclusion on Christmas Day, with everyone seemingly getting their deserved happy ending.
The everlasting estate and breeding ground for scandal has managed to take centre stage in the hearts of many viewers, who adore its period charm, grand aristocracy, and penchant for shocking and dramatic plot lines. The characters who traverse the halls of the great country house are beloved for their beguiling nature, unexpected actions and sassy attitudes (we’re looking at you, Dowager). It is perhaps a culmination of these elements that make Downton Abbey one of the most successful period dramas of recent years.
The Christmas special (and ultimate finale) made sure to pay particular attention to those characters who have suffered the greatest misfortune over the six series, most notably Edith Crawley, the naive and somewhat depressing daughter of the Countess and Earl of Grantham. Edith was the subject of a few scandals and altercations across the series, particularly with her sister Mary, but this was all rectified in the finale as Edith finally got a title, a husband and someone who (albeit begrudgingly at first) accepted her illegitimate daughter, Marigold. She was also able to make peace with her sister after the death of Sybil, arguably the only person who could keep them in check. The decision to finally give Edith her happily-ever-after was long overdue, and it would have been utterly depressing to see another happy moment dash away from her life. Not exactly what you want to watch on Christmas Day. It wasn’t just Edith who got what she wanted: it was a happy occasion for all, with Anna delivering the child she had always wanted, Isobel rescuing Lord Merton from his bizarrely cruel relatives, and Thomas finally getting the coveted job as head butler, replacing Carson. For a series to give everyone such pleasant endings is rare, especially at Christmas time, as this is usually when car accidents occur, people die and characters become devastated. Ultimately, it’s a bit of a u-turn for the series, but a welcome one, as unsatisfactory endings to well-known programmes are remembered for many years to come. After all, no one wants to do a Dexter.
However, this may not be the conclusive end of Downton Abbey, with rumours arising and subtle gestures alluding to a cinematic venture in the form of a full-length film. All of this stems from executive producer Gareth Neame’s comments about being “very interested” in the prospect of a film, which then spiralled into a perfectly plausible possibility. Whether any of this ever comes to fruition is another matter, but Downton Abbey will be difficult to translate to the big screen, although it is certainly dramatic enough to pull it off. TV is a very different medium to film, and this could cause problems in making a singular feature that needs to fit coherently as one product, and not simply one elongated part of several others (take note, The Hobbit), which can feel disjointed and dull. Also, there is the inevitable question of what the basis of this movie will be? Will it be a one-off special, or the first part of a trilogy; a continuation of the current series or set many years in the future? These are some of the issues that will no doubt be on viewer’s minds, especially considering the potential for exploration into the series and the historical events that could simultaneously be covered in typically Downton fashion.
Whether Downton Abbey will ever make the leap to the silver screen remains to be seen, but it has certainly provided eager viewers with six series of tragedy, tension, temptation and truly stunning costumes and architecture, all of which should be commended.