UK fans of Desperate Housewives will be surprised to learn that the current series has a rather unexpected ending – it moves forward five years.

The fourth season of the hit US drama, centred on the wives of Wisteria Lane, returns to Channel 4 in the autumn after its summer hiatus – and its climax offers a hint about what happens to the characters five years on.

Creator Marc Cherry decided on the move in a bid to bring ‘cleanliness’ to the show – and it’s bound to get fans excited about season five, due to be shown in the UK in 2009.

Marc told ABC.com: “One of the problems I had with season two was that I had to keep going with the previous year’s stuff.

“I learned you have to go back to square one to build up the tension again. Finally, this year I said, ‘Why don’t we really mix it up?'”

And it appears that the stars of the show loved the idea.

Actress Eva Longoria Parker, who plays maneater Gabrielle in the show, was thrilled with the innovative idea, saying: “It’s a great way to press the reset button.”

Eva’s co-star Dana Delaney, who plays Katherine, added: “It’s very liberating for both the writers and actors.”

Without giving too much away, the season four finale reveals that Susan is living with a mystery man, Gaby is raising two daughters, and Lynette’s children are at the ‘terrible teen’ phase.

However, given the time-slip, many characters will not be back for season five, which could mean farewell to some old favourites.