Downton exec: Matthew's death was 'best thing' for show

'Downton Abbey' executive producer Gareth Neame says Matthew Crawley's death in the period drama was the "best thing" to happen to the show and has created "endless possibilities"

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Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens

Downton Abbey's executive producer says Matthew Crawley's death was the "best thing" to happen to the show.

Gareth Neame insists he had no worries about the departure of Dan Stevens' alter-ego - who died in a car crash in the 2012 Christmas special of the ITV period drama - because he knew it would create "endless possibilities" to improve the show.

He said: "People have been saying, 'How will you ever survive the demise of the Matthew Crawley character?' And I have no concerns about that whatsoever. We didn't want to lose Matthew, obviously - but having lost him, the great thing about series television is that there are endless possibilities.

"Shows are always having to work around actresses who are pregnant or people who are ill or an agent who has negotiated an out. Drama has endless possibilities, and the thing that looks like the worst that can happen, if you look at it in a completely different way, you suddenly realise that it's the best thing that can happen to you."

Gareth believes Matthew's death has helped to create a "more interesting" storyline for his on-screen wife, Lady Mary Crawley - who is played by Michelle Dockery - and insists the twist has increased fans' anticipation ahead of the forthcoming fourth series.

He added to The Wrap: "This adds dramatic rocket fuel to the fourth season. There's nothing better that could have happened than that twist.

"Mary Crawley's story is far more interesting now, and the dynamics of the show are far more interesting, that she has to rebuild her life rather than she has to evict the tenant farmers or something. Which might have been the storyline otherwise."

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