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Hugh Bonneville: Downton cast 'knew for a while' that this series was the end

Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville says the cast knew for a while that the sixth series was to be the last, and he had 'bittersweet feeligns' about saying goodbye to the global hit.

Speaking to TV Times, the 51-year-old actor adds that while the rest of the world only recently found out the dramatic news, the cast have known for some time that the ITV costume drama is finishing. 

"We've known for a while that this was coming and it's with great fondness that one says farewell to a much-loved show, but there are bittersweet feelings," says Hugh, who plays Lord Grantham.

The sixth and final eight-part series, which begins in 1925, will screen this autumn and will end with a dramatic Christmas special and Hugh, who returns soon for a second series of BBC2 comedy W1A, has high hopes for a fitting swan song.

"I think it will be a great farewell to the show and it will leave a huge hole in all our lives," he reveals. "For six months of the year, Downton has become my life so it will feel very strange. But we're cherishing these last months together and having a lot of fun. We're all such good mates and that doesn't happen in every production."

Read the full interview in TV Times, out Tuesday, April 7.