“I hate goodbyes,” says Tom Branson, the former chauffeur done good, in the finale of Downton Abbey. Oh Tom, so do we. SO. DO. WE.
It’s bizarre to think that six years of Downton has flown by so fast and as we take a step back to reflect, the show’s enormous reach around the globe - from stellar ratings in America to Primetime Emmy Award victories - is unparalleled for a British show. Downton truly has been a phenomenon.
But here were are at the end, a box of tissues in hand, ready to say goodbye to the Crawleys, Anna and Bates, Mrs Patmore and the rest of these beloved characters.
The final episode, airing on Christmas Day, has all the tropes we’ve come to expect of Downton: melodrama and warmth, with storylines ranging from health scares, to love matches, to comedic moments (obviously involving Dame Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess).
Here’s what you can expect:
Will Lady Edith finally have her happy ending?
At the end of the sixth series in November, Lady Edith was left alone - again! - after her sister/nemesis Lady Mary revealed to suitor Bertie Pelham that she had a secret love child with Michael Gregson. Thanks for that, Mary…
In the Christmas special, Edith is left picking up the pieces and planning her future with daughter Marigold, resigned to a life without a partner.
Edith’s fraught relationship with Mary is also revisited. “We’re blood and we’re stuck with it, let’s try and do a little better in future,” says Mary. Her love life may be in shambles, but at least there’s an upside.
Will the Grim Reaper strike?
There are at least two cases of ill health in the finale and, sadly, one of them is our beloved Carson. Surely Julian Fellowes wouldn’t risk outrage a la Matthew Crawley’s Christmas Day death a few years ago? (We’re still not over it.)
Love is in the air
There are plenty of teases to happy endings for some of our favourites including Daisy, Mrs Patmore and Tom Branson. After spending pretty much the entire series run dwelling in the dank kitchen, we reckon it’s time Daisy and Mrs Patmore got some happiness of their own.
Thelma and Louise
There’s time for one last adventure for our very own Thelma and Louise, Isobel and the Dowager Countess, Violet, as they take on Larry Grey’s cunning wife Amelia, who was introduced in series six. How we’ll miss the Isobel and Violet banter. :(
Downstairs and beyond
The last we saw of Anna and Bates in series six they were expecting a Baby Bates. Will everything go to plan?
The Dowager’s servants Denker and Spratt also take centre stage in the finale, providing some light relief amid all the drama. In the series six finale, Spratt was revealed as Edith’s mystery magazine agony aunt - something wily Denker now holds over him.
Spratt easily has one of the episode’s best lines, saying: “Oh dear me, this is worse than i thought, you must have trouble distinguishing between fact and fiction.”
After his suicide attempt, Barrow is on a path to redemption just in time for Christmas. But will he still face being fired from Downton?
Upstairs and beyond
There’s one final test for the Granthams’ marriage, which has thus far survived the death of their daughter Lady Sybil (WE MISS HER), a miscarriage and even Richard E. Grant trying to woo Cora.
Lady Rose is back! Yes, Lily James returns for the final episode with husband Atticus Aldridge in tow. Lily missed the sixth series due to her commitments to Disney’s live action Cinderella film. What has she been up to and what brings her back to Downton?
Downton hit our screens in a blaze of glory in 2010 and while, yes, some series and episodes haven’t quite lived up to the lustre of the early years, this finale will be a satisfying and emotional end for fans of the show who have stuck with it.
The only thing that could make it better is if Matthew Crawley and Lady Sybil miraculously returned from the dead, but alas, that’s one thing we can assure you doesn’t happen.
Farewell, Downton… we need a glass of sherry in the drawing room after that.
Downton Abbey - The Finale airs on Christmas Day at 8.45pm on ITV