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PBS Announces 2016 Premiere Date for ‘Downton Abbey’ Final Season

“Downton Abbey’s” final season is coming to a close — starting on Jan. 3, 2016, to be exact.

The Season 6 premiere date for the U.S. debut was announced Saturday at the Television Critics’ Assn. summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. PBS boss Paula Kerger also said that “Downton” will have a celebratory float at January’s Tournament of Roses parade to honor the show’s final bow.

Earlier this year, exec producer Gareth Neame confirmed that the sixth season, now in production over the pond, would be the last, saying in a statement, “Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years. Inevitably, there comes a time when all shows should end, and ‘Downton’ is no exception. 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. 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.”

As for the future of “Downton,” Neame teased the possibility of a spinoff series, telling Variety, “I can’t guarantee it’s even going to happen. Julian [Fellowes] and I would be very happy to do it if that opportunity comes along. Now that we’re at the beginning of the end of the TV show, we can start to think about it.”

Fellowes, who created the series, added, “It sounds rather an intriguing idea. I hope it comes off! I don’t know anything more than you do about it.”

The PBS team, behind “Downton,” also told Variety that while there are no set plans for more “Downton,” discussions are always happening. “When you have a hit, why wouldn’t you?” said  “Masterpiece” exec producer Rebecca Eaton.

In another interview, Fellowes told Variety that “Downton” may find life in more ways that just a spinoff. “It may be reborn as a movie or a play or a musical or a ballet,” he teased. “Who knows if we’ve seen the last of it?”

Of the series ending, Fellowes says he will miss the team behind the hit time period drama.

“You know, it’s almost strange,” he said. “I’ve lived with these people for seven years now. They’ve taken me and all of us to the top of the mountain. We’ve had this incredible global phenomenon. Most people in this business, even those who have been very successful, never have something like that…Each time I realize I’ve written the last line of a particular character, I feel rather sad. At the same time I don’t think we’ve done the wrong thing. I’ve never felt, ‘Oh my God, what are we doing? This is a mistake!'”

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