Is 'Downton Abbey' Set to End After Season 6?

The hit series starts filming in the U.K in the coming weeks amid speculation its actors are looking for other work

Photo: Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited

Is the end dawning for Lady Mary and the Earl of Grantham?

Just as the stars of Downton AbbeyMichelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Joanne Froggatt and the others – prepare to shoot season 6 in the spring, speculation has arisen that this could be the popular series’ last.

The Daily Mirror says writer Julian Fellowes is turning his back on Downton so he can work on a new project for NBC, The Gilded Age, set in 19th century New York.

“We wouldn t comment on speculative stories about our programs,” the show’s U.K. broadcaster, ITV, says in a statement, while a show insider tells PEOPLE. “There has been this speculation since [season] 2.”

The show is commissioned on a season-by-season basis, and the only thing insiders know is which cast and crew will be working for the next, sixth season.

The Mirror said that ITV was on the hunt for a replacement drama and that actors were actively seeking new work while they were in Los Angeles for the SAG Awards. But this is normal, the insider adds.

Hugh Bonneville appears on other TV shows and is in the current children’s movie Paddington, for example.

“There is other time for cast members to do other work,” the insider points out, also noting that broadcasters are always looking for other dramas. “There are many other Sundays in the year to fill,” the source adds.

But Downton fans are hoping that those evenings continue to be filled with the aristocratic Crawley family, their servants and, of course, suitors for Lady Mary. Meanwhile, season 5 continues Sunday nights on PBS.

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