With millions of viewers tuning in from across the globe, the end of Downton Abbey may be the last thing on fans' minds.
But despite the period drama's huge success, actress Penelope Wilton has said it cannot go “on and on”.
The actress, who plays Isobel Crawley in the ITV series, told the Radio Times that neither her character nor Julian Fellowes’ series could last indefinitely. “I doubt it,” she said, “I don’t think anything can go on and on. Everyone would be bored stiff with it.”
Now in its fourth series, the drama attracts high ratings both in the UK, as well as in the US and China.
Wilton plays alongside actors including Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and guest stars Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Shirley MacLaine. She compared their closeness to that enjoyed by theatre casts.
The former Doctor Who star told the magazine: “We have a very close relationship, all of us, because we have worked over four years together.
“We’ve got to know each other very well professionally, so we do interact very well. It is like being in a [theatre] company and all the better for it probably because you can talk in shorthand, as it were, and do more of the acting.“
Wilton also said that despite the long shoots that take place between February and August, they went by quickly thanks to the cast’s penchant for the word game Bananagrams.
“We play a lot of Bananagrams. We do very short scenes so we come in and out. We don't get bored with one another. It is the closest thing in television to being an ensemble in theatre,” she said.
Co-star MyAnna Buring also cast doubt over her character’s longevity and said she was not sure whether Edna, who she plays in Downton Abbey, would appear again in the drama.
“I don’t know, but never say never with Downton. I was such a massive fan of the show that sitting down at the kitchen table opposite Mrs Hughes and Carson was surreal,” she told the magazine.
When questioned about the rape scene involving house maid Anna Bates, played by Joanne Froggatt, she said: “I think rape should always provoke a very strong reaction. It will be a sad state of affairs when it doesn’t.”