Like those infinitely looping GIFs of Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess firing withering glares, the Crawley saga could very well go on forever. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, 66, confirmed his interest last week in extending the series with a film. The sixth and final season wrapped on Christmas Day in the U.K., while the series is still airing in North America on Sunday nights (PBS at 9 p.m.).
“I’m completely up for a movie,” Fellowes said backstage at Britain’s National Television Awards last week, where Downton won for Best Drama. “I’d love to do a movie. It would be very, very good fun.
“There’s all sorts of things that have to be settled, not least of which is the decision of when we’d make it.” He gave the project a “64.5 per cent” chance of coming to fruition.
Indeed, Fellowes’ dance card in 2016 is so full it would send Lady Mary into a fainting spell. The coming months promise a number of projects that extend Fellowes’ well-mannered British invasion beyond the Abbey.
Can Fellowes make what the New York Times described as “appointment reading” a thing? He’ll attempt to resurrect the serialized novel this April, when he releases the first chapter of Belgravia.
The story, which opens in 1815 against the romance of the Duchess of Richmond’s ball, where British soldiers were torn away from the dance to defend against the invading French, centres on two families that shared a secret whose consequences are felt 25 years later.
Fellowes’ 11-episode serial will be released weekly in both text and podcast formats through an app, and will be collected in a hardcover edition in June.
Fellowes knows which side his crust of bread is buttered on. He will bring his delicious clash-of-classes storytelling back to the U.K.’s ITV, home of Downton, by penning and executive-producing the three-part miniseries Doctor Thorne, starring Tom Hollander as the titular doctor of modest means, and Community and Mad Men star Alison Brie as an American heiress (plus Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, in one of her first film roles).
Executive-produced by the Weinsteins, Doctor Thorne’s working title may as well be Send the Emmys to My Country Address.
The Gilded Age
Fellowes will bring a Downton-esque tone to 19th-century New York with The Gilded Age, an NBC series scheduled to air in 2017. Fellowes has yet to turn in a script, but dedicated Downton-ists can take heart that Fellowes has hinted that younger versions of the Abbey’s ensemble may make cameo appearances.
School of Rock
While Fellowes has a knack for history, it’s not the only subject on his curriculum. He took a playful departure into musical theatre by writing the book for Broadway’s School of Rock, which had its world premiere in December and showcased the kind of guitar solos that the Dowager Countess would have rocked in her own youth had electricity yet been invented.