Following the tragic, and disappointing, death of Matthew Crawley in last year’s Downton Abbey Christmas special, the show’s executive producer has revealed that fans can expect the iconic ITV period drama to take a different direction when it returns this autumn for series 4.
Fans of the show were left slightly disappointed by Matthew’s death when he crashed his car straight after meeting his first born son and heir, in a storyline which bore an uncanny resemblance to the exit of Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) earlier the same year.
However, as reported before, during and since, the decision to kill Matthew off was out of the writer, Julian Fellowes, hands as Dan Stevens, who played Matthew, had decided that when his contract ended at the end of series three he would not be renewing it in favour of a career in America.
This meant that the only episode he could leave in was the Christmas special and, given the time age in which the show is set, death was the only plausible way out for his character.
Whilst critics jumped all over the Christmas Day episode, declaring the end was nigh for the show, which just saw one of its stars, Dame Maggie Smith pick up a Golden Globe for supporting actress as the Dowager Countess, fans all wondered what this could mean for the shows fourth series, which has just been commissioned.
Now, with filming due to commence imminently, the show’s executive producer, Gareth Neame, has revealed that viewers should expect Downton Abbey to change direction in the upcoming series, due to air this autumn, and that the death of Matthew Crawley will open new windows of opportunities.
According to Neame, fans will see Matthew’s widow, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) attempt to “rebuild her life” in the new series, explaining to E!:
“This is a lesson in something that seems like a really big loss in the moment, but will actually turn into a great opportunity… which it will also be for the show, to take a turn in a whole different direction.”
Julian Fellowes echoed much the same, as we reported earlier this week, and now that it has been confirmed that Dame Maggie Smith has signed a new contract to star in the new series, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and start looking forward to the autumn!
Watch Gareth discussing Downton Abbey on the red carpet at last year’s Creative Emmy’s in the clip below:
Downton Abbey series four is expected to air on ITV in the autumn, with a festive special to follow at Christmas