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‘Downton’ producer doesn’t shut door on big-screen film

From left, Penelope Wilton, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael and Joanne Froggatt attend the ‘Downton Abbey’ cast photo call during the 2015 Summer TCA Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) – With “Downton Abbey” coming to an end, its executive producer is offering hope that a follow-up movie is at least a possibility.

By ending the TV drama several years shy of the 1929 stock market crash, producer Gareth Neame said rich territory is left to be mined if a film is made.

He told TV critics Saturday that it’s been discussed, but there’s no script or a firm plan. Afterward, he told The Associated Press that such a project could be made as a big-screen theatrical release but reaffirmed it was speculative at this point.

“I think a ‘Downton Abbey’ movie could be a wonderful thing,” he said earlier.

But it’s time for the series itself to end while it’s still popular and acclaimed, Neame said. The Television Critics Association panel discussion was bittersweet as its stars and producers looked back at the drama’s past seasons and ahead to its conclusion.

“How are we going to live without it?” said Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of “Masterpiece,” the PBS showcase for “Downton Abbey.”

Its sixth and final season will begin airing in September in the U.K. and in January on PBS in the United States.

Neame said the last season will bring back some faces from the past, but the focus of the final season is to wrap up story lines for the main cast.

The high-toned soap opera about the upstairs and downstairs occupants of a stately English mansion dealing with early 20th-century social change will end production Aug. 15.

Studio scenes remain to be shot, but production at Highclere, the estate that stood in for Downton Abbey, wrapped recently.

“That was a sort of interesting day,” Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham, said of the final taping at Highclere. The cast and crew marked the occasion by taking a “team photo” in the dining room, where the longest scenes were filmed.

Saying goodbye to their fictional Crawley family home was difficult.

“Laura (Carmichael) and I wandered around for the last time,” said Michelle Dockery, who played Mary Crawley. “Suddenly we didn’t want to go home. It was really funny.” She and Carmichael (Edith Crawley), sat on a garden bench used by Mary and the now-departed Matthew, her husband who was played by Dan Stevens.

They had a bit of a cry, which will likely be the case for the show’s fans. It was an international success and is the highest-rated PBS drama ever.

The actors were asked what they would miss about the series.

“I’ll miss being in a hit TV show,” said Elizabeth McGovern, who played Cora Crawley, the countess of Grantham.

Besides, Penelope Wilton noted, nothing can go on forever.

“Some of us would be dead. You have to watch for that,” said Wilton, who plays Isobel Crawley, the foil and sometimes-foe of Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley.

Associated Press writer Alicia Rancilio contributed to this report.

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