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New Downton Abbey Season 6 stills and Penelope Wilton interview

The final Season 6 of Downton Abbey ( co-star as Isobel Crawley) recently premiered in the UK in ITV channel last September 20th. I haven't posted here much about Season 6 (other the Season 6 cast photo and UK/US trailers) as it's not airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece until January 2016. I don't want to spoil the final season 6 for my fellow American fans and myself...so in the meantime, I'll try to stay spoiler-free here. I've come across this new Penelope Wilton Downton Abbey interview from Downton Abbey's Press Pack, which you can read below. Also, a few season 6 DA episode stills and behind the scenes featuring Penelope Wilton as Mrs. Crawley.

Downton Abbey's final Season 6 premieres on PBS Masterpiece in the U.S. on Sunday, January 3, 2016!

Read Penelope Wilton's DA Interview and see a few new Season 6 episode stills and BTS below...

Downton Abbey Season 6 Episode Stills
featuring Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley
 (Episode 3 | still via Carnival Films/ITV)
 (Episode 4 | still via Carnival/ITV)
(Season 6 BTS | image via Carnival Films/ITV)
(source: Penelope Wilton fan page on Tumblr)

Downton Abbey season 6: Isobel Crawley
(still via Carnival/ITV)

“Mother-in-law of Mary, Isobel overcame her grief over the death of Matthew to play resume a vibrant and active role in the family. Her engagement to Lord Merton is off but the two remain friends despite the meddling of his children. Her relationship with Violet continues to be turbulent but the two work best as allies and we continue to see why.”

From Downton Abbey Press Pack (via ITV Press Centre):

(as Isobel Crawley)
 (season 6 still via Carnival Films/ITV)

Set the scene for Isobel at the beginning of the final series...
There’s very little time between the fifth season and this one. We’re still in 1925 but things are changing because people cannot afford to keep these great big houses going as they used to before the Great War. For Isobel, however, it’s the status quo until we encounter a problem to do with the local hospital. In fact it’s more like a disagreement, and it’s really to do with progress. There is a move to amalgamate the local hospital with the big hospital in York, which doesn’t go down well with Violet, because she’s chairman of the committee of the local hospital. Of course, what she doesn’t take into account is that the local hospital won’t close. It’s just that its reason for being will slightly change - it will be somewhere where people recuperate rather than actually have major operations. They will take place in a larger hospital that has the facilities for that sort of thing. In fact, it’s an argument that’s still relevant today. Anyway, my character is for the changes because she thinks that people deserve to have the best treatment, even if that means not all treatment will be local. So that’s where the battle lines are drawn.

Is it just a squabble between Isobel and Violet, or is it a major falling out? 
I don’t think you’d call it either: it’s a disagreement of the position on both her and my parts. We don’t actually ever fall out personally, although we have our moments, but it’s a matter of this particular argument and who’s going to win. It’s all a test of strength between Violet and I most of the time. I won’t say who comes out on top. Violet has every right to fight her corner, but she is seen as wanting to keep her position and she has every reason to think that these changes will result in a diminishment of her power. The hierarchy is changing – that is a theme across the whole series.

How would you like things to turn out for Isobel? 
I’ve had a lot of torment and trial for my character with my son dying, getting through the war and all sorts of things. So I think a vibrant middle age would be something that she’s looking forward to. Companionship too. I think she’s perfectly capable of being by herself and she has been by herself for a very long time because she’s a widow, but a new opportunity with a man would’ve been something that she would’ve enjoyed immensely.

How do you feel about Downton Abbey coming to an end?
Ever Decreasing Circles is the only long-running show I’ve done before, which was a comedy, and ran for four years, so it was a slightly different kettle of fish to this. Really, I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s a completely different experience and one I don’t expect I’ll ever do again, but I’ve really enjoyed. It’s been rather like a theatre company where you have a group of people who meet and do plays together. That’s sort of what we’ve done for seven months of each year for the last six years. And it has every sort of actor, from the young to the middle aged; people join, and then they go and the core stays. They’ve been a wonderful group of people. You never stop learning from other actors, so it’s been lovely.

Were you in any doubt that now is the right time to end it?
I think everyone felt it was the right time. It certainly is the right time for the young ones, in my opinion, because they have careers that are starting, and playing the same character all the time is not the reason people become actors. I think it’s much better to leave things when people still want it rather than leave it to slowly lose its charisma.

You already had a flourishing career before Downton. Has it affected the roles you’re being offered?
Yes, because one’s profile is... I’m known more. I’m from a theatre background and it’s a small diaspora if you’re in the theatre and just doing things in England. This is being seen around the world so of course it’s made a difference, for which I’m very grateful. I’ve just played the Queen in the new film of The BFG and I played a German woman fighting for her son’s life earlier this year on stage, so not only has it offered me new opportunities but I don’t think I could honestly say that I’ve been typecast either.

You’ve spent a lot of time pretending to live in the early part of last century. Was it a better or a worse time then, do you think?
I think every time has it’s own worries. They had the Great War, and they didn’t have antibiotics, and there was enormous inequality, but all these things were new to them. I think life was much harder for a larger section of society and enormously privileged for a small section of society. I think that has changed, for the better.

What moments from the series will you look back on most fondly?
I couldn’t possibly tell you, there have been so many. I can tell you the worst moments, which are the dinner and lunch parties where they take ages to film. As you sit there, the food in front of you gets less appetising as the day goes on! I do love all my scenes with Maggie [Smith]. That’s been a lovely relationship that Julian [Fellowes] has built up over the years. We have a good time doing those scenes.



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