What’s on TV caught up with Hugh Bonneville at the launch of the final series of Downton Abbey in London. He reveals what’s in store for the Crawley family, how Robert deals with a spat between his mother and wife, and why he’s not yet quite grasped that this really is the last every series of ITV’s hit period drama, Downton Abbey.
Speaking about the final storyline, Hugh says: “We pick up in 1925 when the Crawleys visit a neighbour who has to sell his estate and family silver. It’s a real wake up call for Robert and the family…They have to think about how to make ends meet so they don’t end up having to fracture and sell everything. So that’s the hare that’s set running in Robert’s story.”
He also explains why Robert’s mother, Violet (Maggie Smith), and wife, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), are at loggerheads – and how he deals with it…
“Never step between a mother and her daughter-in-law if there’s a spat going on! Robert tries to sit on the fence for as long as he possibly can.
“There’s a thing in the village that’s going to cause friction and there are definitely two camps. Robert’s stuck in the middle trying to keep both his mother and wife sweet. I think a lot of viewers will recognise that feeling!”
Talking about what the show’s meant to him over the years Hugh Bonneville joked: “It’s meant 5am starts, stiff collars that do your neck in, a lot of fun people and an amazing experience. So, from bad to good!”
He adds: “This series has been a bit of a slog. The crew’s been working flat-out for 6 months. I feel for them because we actors get things like days off and they don’t.”
Hugh, who also stared in Rev and W1A, says: “I shot my final scene a couple of days ago and it was very reflective. Michelle [Dockery] and I did our first scenes together in 2010 and here we are doing our last scene together, and we’re still pals. That’s a testament of something. It has been a very happy set.
“There’s about 42 of us on the cast and crew who’ve done every single episode and we’ve formed a special bond over these years. It will feel strange when we’re not getting into our thermals next February and going to freezing cold Highclere Castle and starting again. It’s not sunk in yet.”
For the full interview with Hugh Bonneville watch the video above.
Hugh also reveals why his favourite character is Molesley, and how he realised the true popularity of the show when they were forced to pull paparazzi out of trees!