Acclaimed British actor Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) dropped by “Live with Kelly and Michael” on Jan. 14 to discuss the much-dreaded final season of PBS’ Emmy-winning drama “Downton Abbey.” Many cast members have been making the talk show rounds as the series nears its close. They have understandably struggled to stay tight-lipped about the Crawleys’ ultimate fate. Nonetheless, co-hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan couldn’t resist trying to tease a little something from “Downton’s” beloved patriarch.
They opened by discussing Bonneville’s current film project, “Viceroy’s House,” which he began filming in India the day after “Downton Abbey” wrapped in England. Bonneville plays another Lord, this time Mountbatten and he stars opposite Gillian Anderson in the film which deals with the Partition of India in 1947. Ironically, the role he was recognized for while he was there came as a shock when a young boy asked if he was Mr. Henry Brown from Paddington.
Then Strahan steered the conversation toward a set visit from a real-life Royal who is (not surprisingly) a huge “Downton Abbey” fan. Bonneville confirmed Princess Kate Middleton did visit the set and helped Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nichol) stir something up in the kitchen. He said, “It was a very special occasion for us because she and her husband are apparently fans of the show. So, it was really lovely to have them come along.”
Ripa wondered if he had to follow any sort of Royal protocol and Bonneville said, “Not really. They’re terribly relaxed and put one at one’s ease very quickly. No, Princess Kate was fine. We were just told no tongues and it will be fine.” The audience erupted into laughter. Given all of the drama that flows through the halls of Downton (think Lady Mary and Kemal Pamuk) wouldn’t a member of the cast lip-locking with Princess Kate have been a sight to see?
Diehard American “Downton Abbey” fans are probably finding it a little harder to breathe with each passing episode of the beloved British drama’s sixth and final season. There are several storylines that need to be tied up. Many fans’ burning questions revolve around the Crawley sisters’ fate. Namely, will Mary and Edith both find true love?
A TVline interview with Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) and Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith) teases that both Crawley sisters may find true love by the end and at any rate the ending will be a good one. Carmichael said, “It’s a really satisfying ending. It’s hard. It’s never going to be the way that you think it is. There’s going to be a lot of gasps and tears, but all in that classic Downton way!”
Strahan asked Bonneville if the show really has to end and he said, “Who wants to be the last guest at the party? I think, leave at a polite time while the party’s still going, rather than be the one sweeping up when nobody wants you there.” While this makes sense, “Downton’s” avid international fan base would leap forward with welcoming, open arms if the series decided to stick around a little longer. Particularly US fans who consume each episode like a piece of decadent candy.
As for final “Downton Abbey” plot points, Bonneville didn’t share much. He did say “I think loyal followers of the show will think the ending is appropriate.” Knowing Julian Fellowes’ penchant for plot twists, we’re undoubtedly in for one last glorious ride and this time, the delayed “Downton Abbey” American viewing audience would probably be best treated by savoring every moment of suspense.