TIME Television

Downton Abbey Creator: I Didn’t Want to End the Show With Nazis

"Downton Abbey" Set Visit
Vera Anderson—WireImage/Getty Images Julian Fellowes on the "Downton Abbey" set at Highclere Castle on February 16, 2015 in Newbury, England.

"I don’t know that there is anything else to be said about the Nazis"

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes was happy to have the show address life in England before, during and after WWI—but he’s glad it will end before the rumblings of WWII hit the British newspapers.

Fellowes, who has written every episode of the hit series and is preparing to wind down its sixth and final season, tells The Wrap that he never wanted to take the Crawley family into the 1930s. “I feel the ’30s have been very much explored dramatically,” he said, “and I didn’t really want to get into the whole business of the Nazis, which I think has been explored exhaustively. And I don’t know that there is anything else to be said about the Nazis.”

On another level, he explained, he prefers dramas “where you don’t know whose side you’re on, or maybe you change sides. You might initially think, Oh no, [Maggie Smith’s character] Violet is completely wrong in this, but as the argument goes on and as you hear more of her point of view, you understand where she’s coming from….But the Nazis don’t give you that. Nobody’s slightly on the side of the Nazis.”

Fellowes added that there have been “wonderful films” about the Nazis, but that he’s not “the right guy to write them.” He said he purposefully set his film Gosford Park in November 1932 because it was “the last time when you could do something about the British upper classes without the Nazis.”

The only downside in this decision is we will never hear a snide remark about Hitler from the Dowager Countess.

[The Wrap]

TIME Theater

A Downton Abbey Musical Could Be in the Works

Downton Abbey, Season 5 on MASTERPIECE on PBSSundays, January 4 - March 1, 2015 at 9pm ETJIM CARTER as Mr Carson, ROBERT JAMES-COLLIER as Thomas, RAQUEL CASSIDY as Baxter, KEVIN DOYLE as Molesley, LAURA CARMICHAEL as Lady Edith Crawley, PENELOPE WILTON as Isobel Crawley, ALLEN LEECH as Tom Branson, MAGGIE SMITH as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, HUGH BONNEVILLE as Robert, Earl of Grantham, ELIZABETH McGOVERN as Cora, Countess of Grantham, MICHELLE DOCKERY as Lady Mary Crawley, MATT BARBER as Atticus, LILY JAMES as Lady Rose, LESLEY NICOL as Mrs Patmore, SOPHIE McSHERA as Daisy and PHYLLIS LOGAN as Mrs Hughes. (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2014This image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only. USE ON THIRD PARTY SITES SUCH AS FACEBOOK AND TWITTER IS NOT ALLOWED.
Nick Briggs—Carnival Film & Television Ltd The cast of Downton Abbey

The show's composer says a stage show is coming

Could the Crawley family soon be warbling their way through World War I? Maybe, according to an interview with Downton Abbey composer John Lunn, who says a musical based on the show is in the works.

Lunn said in a radio interview that he’s working on a live performance about Lord Grantham and the gang. “There’s talk of [creator] Julian Fellowes and I and some of the cast doing a live tour the way Dr. Who did; 70% of it will be music from the show,” he said. “There might be some Elgar, there might be some jazz of the periods. Some of the actors will likely recite. We’ll have a screen. We may have the music live to several scenes. Julian may be the host.”

Sounds like a ball, but will it really come to fruition? “I’d say it’s a 75% chance it will happen,” Lunn reportedly said.

TIME Television

Downton Abbey Will End After Season 6

The hit British period drama is closing its doors

Time to put away your teacups and scones: the coming sixth season of Downton Abbey will be its last.

“We wanted to close the doors of Downton Abbey when it felt right and natural for the storylines to come together and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans,” executive producer Gareth Neame said in a press release Thursday. “We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up.”

TIME asked creator Julian Fellowes in February whether the show might leap ahead in time before it ended to follow the characters as World War II broke out, but he poured cold water on the idea. “[Lady Mary’s son] George would have fought in that war because he was born in 1921, I think,” he says. “He would be called up by 1941 or 1942. We’d have to hope he’d get through it. Of course fewer people died in the Second World War [than the First] but people did die, and we have to just hope little George gets through.”

Downton Abbey is the most nominated British show in Emmy history, according to ITV, with 51 nominations. The series will air its final episode in the United Kingdom on Christmas Day, and is likely to be shown in the United States in early 2016.

But that might not be the very last of it – a Downton movie could happen after the show ends. “[A movie is] definitely something we’re contemplating, it would be great fun to do,” Neame said, according to Entertainment Weekly.

For now, look at this farewell post on the Downton Facebook page and start emotionally gearing up to say goodbye to everyone in the Crawley household.

Read next: 7 Historic Moments Downton Abbey Could Tackle Next Season

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME movies

Lily James: My Cinderella Glass Slippers Didn’t Fit Me

CINDERELLA
Jonathan Olley—Disney Lily James stars as Cinderella in Disney's live-action movie Cinderella

The actress says this Cinderella is "not a victim"

Cinderella’s glass slippers are big shoes to fill, and Lily James is ready to fill them—figuratively, anyway, since the Swarovski crystal heels created for the new live-action Disney movie didn’t actually fit the Downton Abbey actress’s feet.

James says the Kenneth Branagh-directed feature offers a new kind of Cinderella, one with more bravery and strength, plus a better message for young girls. TIME caught up with her before the movie’s Friday release to talk about her Prince Charming (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden), her ball gown and the next steps for her career.

TIME: I heard that hundreds of actresses tried out for the part of Cinderella. What was the audition process like?

James: Very long and very painful. I originally went in to play Anastasia, one of the step-sisters, and I was really into it. I remember practicing the night before and I put on my most garish pink-orange tie-dye jumper. I was really up for playing a character where you didn’t have to worry about being pretty, and you could just be more quirky and comical. But then when I was there, the casting director said, “You should just read for Ella while you’re here,” and I did. And it just felt right. In the breakdown of the character, Kenneth said she had a generous spirit. I met Ken, and then I did screen tests—the whole thing took a few months, actually, until finding out. And in the screen test, in one of them, Ken played Prince Charming, which was so cool—he’s a really good Prince Charming.

What scene did you read with him?

The scene on the horseback and also another scene that didn’t end up in the film. I even did a scene in the kitchen, and they built this entire kitchen out of pine wood, kind of like the one in the movie—not as detailed and exquisite, but I had to cook, and there was boiling water, and it all worked, and there was an oven, and there were mice that I spoke to, and I couldn’t figure out if I was more scared of pretending to like mice or pretending to be able to cook.

In the real shooting you didn’t have mice to talk to, right? They were CGI.

No, I had little squidgy soft toys, or I’d even have tennis balls, and the sound guys would make weird squeaking sounds at me in reply. I felt like I was losing my mind.

It looked like you had great chemistry with Richard Madden, your Prince Charming, on the red carpet at the film premiere. Did you become close on the set?

We did. He was cool. Because we both were entering this world together, and for both of us it was our first big film, we bonded on that. He’s a really good man—he really was a real support—and also we just had fun right from the start. We became like mates. We have a similar sense of humor, I think.

Cate Blanchett played your stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter played your fairy godmother, too. How was it working with them?

To have scenes with actors like that makes you way better. All you have to do is respond because their characters are so deep and layered and colorful and rich, so in a way you just have to enter into their moment and share the moment, and when you look into their eyes, they’re telling the truth. It was the most unique acting experience I’ve had. And Helena is so funny. Those scenes were such a hoot.

She must not have been on set for too many days, since she’s mainly just in the transformation scene.

I was so sad when she left. Actually, we did these night shoots because they built everything for real—my whole garden and the house, everything was real, in the back lot of Pinewood [Studios, in London] in the forest. So we were shooting from seven in the evening til six in the morning, and it was freezing cold. We had hot water bottles and coffees, just trying to get through. It became like this parallel universe that we existed in together. We had these ridiculously gigantic skirts to navigate. Somehow, because she was there, we had a great time. She’s so spectacular—she just sort of improvises [in that scene].

Oh, really? Some of it was unscripted?

Yeah, loads of it. She came up with this idea that the Fairy Godmother perhaps isn’t actually that good at magic, and she’s a bit out of practice. So you know, all the stuff is like, “What have you got? Have you got a barrow? A cumquat? A melon?” She would try new vegetables every time, and I would genuinely be like, “I don’t know what that is.” And Ken’s great facilitating all that. He lets you go with the moment, and he’s so full of life. He directs with such heart. He really inspired all that sort of energy. There’s a lot of freedom.

What about all those period costumes? They seem a little less free and more constricting. What are the best and worst parts about wearing those dresses and corsets?

The best, which outweighs everything else, was in that blue gown—I felt completely transformed. And that’s what fairy tales are all about: transformation. When I put that dress on, I felt like I could be a princess. But then I’m glad that it only lasted a night! Or like, a movie-magic night. It was just so big, so heavy. With corsets, it’s interesting when you put them on, realizing that’s what women actually wore—that’s what they wore every day, and they’re just so constricting. I’m not surprised they ditched those corsets! In the blue dress it was particularly tight. On the one hand, it helps in the way you stand and the way you move, but on the other hand, it takes your breath right up into your chest. When I was trying to dance, I didn’t have the capacity to breathe to support the physicality, and so I had to keep taking breaks and loosening the corset. But as I said, it was worth it.

You also wore a pretty remarkable dress for the wedding scene in Downton Abbey, which we in the U.S. have only recently seen. Will we see Lady Rose again in season 6 even though she left for America at the end of season 5?

I hope so. I really hope so. It’s sort of down to what Julian writes—it’s down to timing—but I’m pretty certain that that’s not the end of Rose.

Americans, at least, have come to know you primarily through period pieces like Downton, and Cinderella kind of feels like a period piece. Then you have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and War and Peace coming up. Is that a space you especially want to work in, or are you eager to take on more contemporary roles?

I definitely want to do some contemporary stuff now. To be honest, when I was growing up—I think it’s because of Kate Winslet and Titanic—I always wanted to do period. I grew up always wanting that, so I feel so happy that I’ve done a lot, but I’m definitely keen to challenge myself.

A lot of times when people talk about Disney princesses, they’re concerned about what the message will be for little girls. What do you want children to take away from this version?

The message in the film is quite clear, and it’s that if you have courage, be kind, then all will be well—that your strength can come from within. Oftentimes when they re-do the fairy tales, the princesses suddenly have swords and armor, that’s where their strength comes from—which is great, but with this one, we wanted to show that there are different kinds of strength. Any kid in the world can draw from strengths within—we all have the potential with that. She manages to find joy in life even though she’s having quite a bleak time and talking to the mice, imagining and dreaming. What’s inside is what really matters. At the end of the film we say, “This is the greatest risk we’ll ever take: to be seen as we truly are.” The reason the prince falls in love with Ella is because she’s such a strong, beautiful girl from the inside—she challenges him and they enrich each other. That’s not a very quick message. It may be the most long-winded answer ever. But I think there’s lots of little messages in the film that are really strong and empowering.

I read that you didn’t actually wear the glass slippers in the film.

They didn’t fit me. They fit the wrong girl. They didn’t fit any human foot! They’re Swarovski crystals, so they were on set and I would hold them and be terrified, whereas Richard Madden would be holding it and carrying away and moving around, gesticulating, and these guys in white gloves would be terrified. My friend’s daughter came to visit on set, and I let her hold the slipper, and her face—it was one of the most magical moments. Her eyes just lit up and the shoes were reflected in her eyes. It was amazing.

Read next: This Honest Trailer for Cinderella Reminds Us How Sexist the Original Story Really Is

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME TV

Maggie Smith to Leave Downton Abbey After Next Season

Downton Abbey Season 5 on MASTERPIECE on PBSPart EightSunday, February 22, 2015 at 9pm ETSomeone tries to derail Rose and Atticus’s happiness. Mrs. Patmore gets a surprise. Anna isin trouble. Robert has a revelation.(C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Films 2014 for MASTERPIECEThis image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only. USE ON THIRD PARTY SITES SUCH AS FACEBOOK AND TWITTER IS NOT ALLOWED.
Nick Briggs—Carnival Films/Masterpiece/PBS

The Dowager Countess won't be back after Season 6 — but will the show?

Actress Maggie Smith will not be returning after next season of the hit TV show, Downton Abbey.

Smith told The Sunday Times that she will not be returning to the popular British melodrama to continue her role as Violet Crawley, the feisty Dowager Countess of Grantham — as well as giving a broad hint that the show itself would not be coming back either. “They say this is the last one, and I can’t see how it could go on,” Smith said. “I mean, I certainly can’t keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now.”

The fifth season of the show ended its run on PBS on Sunday, though British viewers caught the most recent season in 2014.

The veteran actress has won several awards for her Downton Abbey role including a Golden Globe, and multiple Screen Actors Guild awards and Emmys.

Read next: 7 Historic Moments Downton Abbey Could Tackle Next Season

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

The Historical Truth Behind Thomas’ Tragic Revelation on Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey
Nick Briggs—Carnival Film & Television Ltd/PBS Robert James-Collier as Thomas (far left) on Downton Abbey

What happened to Thomas happened to lots of men

Contains spoilers for the episode of Downton Abbey that aired in the U.S. on Feb. 8, 2015

After several episodes that left viewers wondering what Thomas was up to behind closed doors and what was making him look so ashen, Downton Abbey answered the question in a way that may surprise modern audiences, though perhaps not so much given the character’s history. His trip to London earlier in the season had been to receive electrotherapy that would “make [him] more like other people” (to change his sexuality, that is) and he had given himself an abscess through follow-up injections with an unsterilized needle.

Though Dr. Clarkson’s and Baxter’s attitudes toward the discovery were perhaps a little blasé for historical accuracy — as Downton viewers and people who saw The Imitation Game know, there were criminal penalties for homosexuality in England at the time — the tragic history behind that kind of electrotherapy is very real.

In fact, fans of Masters of Sex may remember that the technique showed up last summer on the show as well. As we explained back then, electroconvulsive therapy wasn’t the most typical method used to “cure” homosexuality, but it did happen, along with shock-based aversion therapy. And it wasn’t even all that historical — it happened to Thomas in 1924, it happened on MoS in the ’60s and it didn’t stop then.

It was as recently as Feb. 12, 1965, that TIME ran a story with the declarative headline “Homosexuals Can Be Cured“: “One reason why homosexuals are so rarely cured is that they rarely try treatment,” the story began. “Too many of them actually believe that they are happy and satisfied the way they are.”

TIME Television

The True History Behind Downton Abbey‘s Scandalous Sex Book

Dr Marie Stopes
Ron Gerelli / Getty Images Marie Stopes (1880 - 1958), who popularized the use of birth control in Britain with her books 'Married Love' and 'Wise Parenthood'

Marie Stopes' work made another appearance on the show

Contains spoilers for Season 5 Episode 2 of Downton Abbey

In the episode of Downton Abbey that aired for U.S. audiences on Jan. 11, the name is only mentioned briefly. Lady Mary hands a book to her maid Anna and mentions the author as she sends Anna off on an embarrassing errand — but to a British woman of the early 1920s the implication was clear: the name Marie Stopes meant birth control.

Stopes is famous as the author of the 1918 marriage manual Married Love, which she was inspired to write after her own marriage was annulled. She was a scientist — an expert on plant fossils — and challenged the Victorian idea that it was improper for a woman to enjoy sex. She also wrote about contraception; in fact, she was a proponent of the belief that waiting to conceive a child would result in a stronger relationship between husband and wife. The book was a bestseller in England, though still controversial, and it was banned in the U.S. for obscenity for more than a decade.

Though Married Love made Stopes famous — and got a shout-out on Downton last season — its sequel, Wise Parenthood, published within a year of the first, is more likely to have been the book Mary turned to for help. Stopes wrote in the introduction to the sequel that she had received a deluge of inquiries for more specific information about how to actually obtain and use the contraceptive plans she advocated. In 1921, she went even further, opening the world’s first birth-control clinic, and then following that up with others throughout the country. (The item that Anna ends up buying at the pharmacy, in its nondescript paper bag, is likely to have been a cervical cap.)

Stopes wasn’t always ahead of her time — there was often an undercurrent of eugenics to her ideas on birth control, and when she died in 1958, TIME remarked diplomatically that “she got a few weird ideas” over the years. But her books helped bring women like Lady Mary into a future where their love lives didn’t have to be controlled by the ever-present threat of motherhood, and where there were alternatives to the illegal abortion to which Lady Edith was almost driven last season.

That shift, from past to future, is what Downton is all about — and Marie Stopes, as TIME wrote when she died, was right there with them:

As a Harley Street admirer put it: “In these days of family planning, female emancipation, and ideas of equality in sexual pleasure, it is easy to see Dr. Stopes and say, ‘So what?’ We have to place her in her own age, when such things were quite beyond the pale—and that was not so long ago.” The times had passed her by, but it was because she had done so much to shape them.

Read the full story here in the TIME Vault: Early Crusader

TIME

See What Happened When Lady Edith Played Cards Against Humanity

"Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb" New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals
Jim Spellman—WireImage/Getty Images Laura Carmichael attends the Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb New York premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater on December 11, 2014 in New York City.

Bonus: Mrs. Patmore talks about farting

It’s rare that Downton Abbey viewers get to see Lady Edith smile. But this new video changes everything. Laura Carmichael, who plays Downton Abbey‘s saddest sister, sat down with Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) and Phyliss Logan (Elise Hughes) to play the least appropriate of games: Cards of Humanity. Things escalate quickly to behavior that’s better suited for downstairs than upstairs.

“We’ve never played before so bear with us,” Nicol’s says at the start. But if you’ve ever played the card game, you can probably imagine the turn it took. Lady Edith talks about balls, Mrs. Patmore gets on the subject of farting and Mrs. Hughes says “bitches.” Lady Cora would be appalled. The three women can hardly control themselves. See if you can by watching the full clip at EW.com.

TIME Television

See Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess Recreated as a Cake

Masterpiece/PBS; Karen Portaleo From left: Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey; Dowager Countess cake by Karen Portaleo

She’s like a mini Madame Tussauds figure made with cake batter!

The Dowager Countess, the acerbic grand dame played by Maggie Smith on Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey, was recently reborn as a life-like dessert for a season five premiere event at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

In a two-minute video made by the event’s host, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Portaleo can be seen creating her work of art while actual scenes from the period drama are spliced in to make it seem like the characters are commenting on the cake.

No word on what Smith thinks of her sugary likeness but the show’s consultant, Alastair Bruce, attended the Atlanta premiere and made an observant comment. “He said the cake is so very American, which I thought was hysterical,” Portaleo told Today.com. “It is very American to create a human out of cake.”

Consider it the sweetest tribute of all.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Television

Downton Abbey Returns to 10 Million U.S. Viewers

Downton Abbey, Season 5 on MASTERPIECE on PBSSundays, January 4 - March 1, 2015 at 9pm ETJIM CARTER as Mr Carson, ROBERT JAMES-COLLIER as Thomas, RAQUEL CASSIDY as Baxter, KEVIN DOYLE as Molesley, LAURA CARMICHAEL as Lady Edith Crawley, PENELOPE WILTON as Isobel Crawley, ALLEN LEECH as Tom Branson, MAGGIE SMITH as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, HUGH BONNEVILLE as Robert, Earl of Grantham, ELIZABETH McGOVERN as Cora, Countess of Grantham, MICHELLE DOCKERY as Lady Mary Crawley, MATT BARBER as Atticus, LILY JAMES as Lady Rose, LESLEY NICOL as Mrs Patmore, SOPHIE McSHERA as Daisy and PHYLLIS LOGAN as Mrs Hughes. (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2014This image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only. USE ON THIRD PARTY SITES SUCH AS FACEBOOK AND TWITTER IS NOT ALLOWED.
Nick Briggs—Carnival Film & Television Ltd The cast of Downton Abbey

'Downton' continues to rank as PBS’ most popular show of all time

Downton Abbey returned a massive audience and came thisclose to setting a new ratings record.

The fifth season premiere had 10.1 million viewers Sunday night, which is huge for a PBS drama. The number is just shy of the show’s all-time peak U.S. viewership of 10.2 million viewers for its fourth season premiere. “We’re incredibly excited that Downton Abbey’s fans came out in force for the premiere of what has become a cultural phenomenon,” said PBS chief programmer Beth Hoppe. “We’ll also be looking at time-shifted and online viewing over the next few weeks as the season progresses.”

“America has whole-heartedly embraced the Crawley family and those who serve them since the first season of Downton and we are very appreciative,” added executive producer Gareth Neame. “We’re thrilled to have season five, of which we are quite proud, off to such a strong start.”

Downton ranks as PBS’ most popular show of all time. The premiere picked up Crawley family melodrama in 1924 and EW’s Melissa Maerz gave the episode an A-. You can check out her review here.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

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