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.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!