Julian Fellowes: Downton's Matthew had to die

Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens

'Downton Abbey' writer Julian Fellowes says he had no choice but to kill off the show's most popular character, Matthew Crawley, at Christmas.

Julian Fellowes had no choice but to kill off 'Downton Abbey's Matthew Crawley.

The Christmas day episode of the ITV period drama shocked fans when one of the most popular characters died in a car crash, as actor Dan Stevens doesn't want to play the heir anymore.

Julian - who writes the show - told The Sun newspaper: "We would have loved to keep him and have always tried to persuade him to stay. But this is life. Dan felt that this was the right thing for him."

The writer added he would have left the door open for Dan's return as Matthew in the show, but the actor was adamant he wanted to move on.

He said: "If Dan had been prepared to come back for maybe two or three episodes in a series, that would be different.

"We could have had a foreign posting or invented a career for him.

"Otherwise we would have had to make the love affair between Lady Mary Crawley and Matthew unhappy, which I didn't feel would be believable. We didn't really have an option."

After some viewers complained about Matthew's death, ITV released a statement clarifying why the decision was made.

It read: "After three successful series and two Christmas editions of 'Downton Abbey', Dan Stevens decided not to renew his contract beyond the initial three years he had been contracted.

"Over the last three years, audiences across the world have been captivated by the ups and downs of Mary and Matthew's relationship, culminating in their wedding.

"Fans have enjoyed what has become a solid and loving marriage. It is for this reason that the producers decided Matthew and Mary could not simply be estranged or parted, resulting in his untimely and tragic death at the end of the Christmas episode."


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