Downton Abbey will go on forever - there are films to be made

In Downton: 2071, a bunch of aristo-nauts are chosen to fly into deep space to find a habitable new home

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The Independent Online

What a week. First the wheel-sniffers of the Clarkson Tendency angrily mourned their man-god, then One Direction fans were thrown into a tailspin of weepy grief by the defection of Zayn Malik. Finally, devotees of Julian Fellowes’ anaesthetic snob-u-drama Downton Abbey were told that the forthcoming sixth season would be the last, although executive producer Gareth Neame softened the news by floating the possibility of a feature film.

Only one? Come off it, Gaz. The economic model of the film world is the successful franchise, and with Downton hugely popular not only in the US but in 200 territories worldwide – and with the show’s habit of speeding through the decades offering an endlessly refreshing backdrop of world events – it’s unlikely it will ever die. Here, we can exclusively reveal the synopses for an initial trilogy that could spawn sequels indefinitely.

Downton Fall: It is April 1945, the Crawley family and their staff have been scattered to the four corners of Europe by war, with John and Anna Bates fighting alongside the French Resistance, Lady Mary rallying partisans in Greece, Lady Edith impregnated in a Ghent field hospital, and Carson padding around the war office behind Winston Churchill (Dame Helen Mirren, in a surprising cameo). While Cora is in Yalta, acting as emissary between Roosevelt and Stalin by simpering ironically at them both, the Earl of Grantham mounts an attack on Hitler (Dame Joan Collins, in a surprising cameo).

Tune in, Turn on, Downton Out: It’s 1967 and Downton swings like a pendulum do. The Earl and Cora have abandoned the house to go and study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Dame Joan Plowright, in a surprising cameo). The servants have painted the Abbey in psychedelic swirls and plan to host a rock festival, Downstock, while Thomas Barrow has launched a career as an edgy fashion photographer. The Dowager Countess has opened a branch of Granny Takes a Trip in Haight Ashbury, Lady Mary is agitating for the Black Panthers, while Lady Edith secretly gave birth to John F Kennedy’s love child four years before.

Downton: 2071: In the near future, Earth is dying, and a select group of heavily trained and heavily armed aristo-nauts – the Earl, Cora, Edith, Mary, etc, etc – are chosen to fly into deep space to find a habitable new home for the human race. With a bunch of servants on board to fly the ship, clean the space-latrines, fasten collar-studs and so on. They alight on a planet that seems perfect but are attacked by a race of zombie cyborgs cloned by aliens from the DNA of Matthew Crawley. Watch out for the climactic laser battle between Maggie Smith’s Dowager Empress of Earth and the insectoid robot alien queen (Dame Judi Dench in a surprising cameo).