In March of this year, I reported that actor Dan Stevens was leaving Downton Abbey. The fans should have trusted me. Now many of the UK fans are outraged that shows creator Julian Fellows kills the character off in the 3 season Christmas Special. Viewers comments flooded in with the storyline was “a ‘travesty’, a ‘tragedy’ and an ‘outrage’, with some saying the ending had ‘ruined their Christmas’.” One TV show, and one selfish actor ruined Christmas, really!
Well, I had to call Julian just to wish him a Happy Christmas and to get his take on why such a dramatic storyline conclusion. “I’ll tell you that killing Matthew was really the only course that the show could take once Stevens decided to depart.” “We tried to persuade him to stay. He had done fantastically well for the series and his creation of Matthew was terrific, I mean that. But this is life. Dan felt that this was right thing for him,” “If he had been prepared to come back for maybe two or three episodes in a series, that would be different. Then we could have had a foreign posting or invented a career that would have made it possible for him to be away,” Julian said. “Otherwise we would have had to make this tremendously successful love affair between Mary and Matthew unhappy, which I didn’t feel would be believable … So we didn’t really have any option. By him dying, their love can remain in tact.”
With every ending there is a new beginning and fans will have the chance to fall in love with Downton Abbey all over again. Any name now for your new US drama? “Not that I can announce, the show’s script is still in development” said Julian. We ended the call with holiday pleasantries. Will father Christmas come back to Downton Abbey? Did one actor spoil a nations Christmas? That fact that Downton Abbey feels so real that when a lead character leaves or dies causes such an out cry from fans of a period drama is certainly a compliment to the shows creator as well as the actors who brilliantly portray their imaginative written characters. Christmas is safe.
Season 3 was a smash hit in its native Britain and last season a godsend to public television here in America, where it has delivered PBS’s Masterpiece program its largest-ever viewership.
Season 3 has not aired here but many of the US fans heard the rumors of the Dan demise. Season 3 of “Downton Abbey” premieres in the U.S. on Sun., Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS.
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