Interview by Bill Gibb for the Sunday Post
Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville admits the show’s demise will “leave a huge hole” in his life.
ITV bosses announced this week that the sixth series will be the last. It will bow out with a Christmas Day special.
And Hugh, who has played head of the house the Earl of Grantham since the first episode, admits there will be a massive void to fill.
“For six months of the year Downton has been my life and it will feel very strange,” Hugh, 51, told The Sunday Post.
“It will leave a huge hole. I have bittersweet feelings. We’re filming the final episodes now and the cast have known for a while this was coming.
“It’s with great fondness that I’ll say farewell to a much-loved show like this.”
Downton became one of Britain’s biggest-ever drama exports and is the highest-rating UK drama of the past decade.
It’s now shown in more than 250 territories worldwide with viewers hooked on the lives of the Crawley family and their servants since it started in 2010.
“We’re cherishing these last months together,” confided Hugh. “We’re trying to make the most of it all.
“In fact, we were filming a scene the other day that referred back to something that happened in episode one. We all stopped and looked a bit misty-eyed as we remembered filming that nearly six years ago.”
The drama has made Hollywood stars of cast members like Michelle Dockery, Lily James and Dan Stevens.
“We’ve become a good bunch of mates,” said Hugh, who will be back in a new series of BBC sitcom W1A next month.
“And let me tell you, that doesn’t happen in every production.
“I said to the producer not long ago that who would have thought that so many years later we wouldn’t be throwing chairs at one another.”
Executive Producer Gareth Neame said: “We wanted to close the doors of Downton Abbey when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans.
“We can promise a final season full of drama and intrigue.”
Hugh, who played Mr Brown in the recent hit film Paddington, said he was sure there would be “a great farewell”.
And with 11 Emmy awards, three Golden Globes and three Baftas it has been a huge boost for the UK.
“It’s been amazing for us to be considered alongside shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad,” added Hugh.