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Downton Abbey: See the first-look pictures from the upcoming final season!

Downton Abbey is coming to an end after six glorious seasons.

But for those who can't wait for the show to return next month, these first-look pictures should quench their appetites.

The poignant shots feature the cast posing on the grounds of Downton in a number of promotional snaps.

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Hugh Bonneville as the Earl of Grantham

As usual their costumes are as intricate as they are classic.

Most of the characters have sombre expressions on their faces, perhaps an indication of what the forthcoming season holds for them.

There are big changes in store for the characters of Downton as things pick up in 1925.

The Earl of Grantham, played by Hugh Bonneville, must make the difficult decision to reduce his staff.

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Dame Maggie Smith reflects on the past

The decision will no doubt have consequences for other characters, such as butler Thomas Barrow who is forced to consider what the future may hold.

Dame Maggie Smith says she is amazed she lived long enough to finish the final series of Downton Abbey.

The acclaimed actress, 80, is loved by millions in her role as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham.

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The staff may get their marching orders

But asked about her thoughts on the filming of the sixth series coming to a close, she said: “I'm just surprised I have got to the end. Because just before this, which was six years ago, I had done about ten years with Harry Potter, so I felt very very old indeed by the time I got to the end.

“So I am just very surprised I got through it and I am still here.”

The comment caused laughter at the Downton press screening in London as Maggie is known for her dry sense of humour.

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All good things must come to an end

Going on to refer to working on the show, Maggie then said she find it tough to keep up with her younger peers.

She said: “We are usually scrambling to keep up with what is happening.

"We shoot out of sequence which is pretty alarming so I find it hard. Other people are better at this television stuff.

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Who will get a happy ending?

“It is hard to go one to five to six in the episodes, so thank god they are written with clarity.”

The series will begin next month on ITV and Dame Maggie is again a huge star of the show with brilliant put downs.

But she admitted she was yet to watch much of the entire five previous series and will be buying the boxed set.

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The costumes are as intricate as ever

Asked what she was doing next as other actors talked of new projects, she said: “I am going to be lying down for quite some time.

“The other thing I will be doing is watching this and getting the box set and having a good look.

“I haven’t watched anything I have done. I have seen some of it but I want to sit down and watch it all.”

© Carnival Film & Television Ltd
Big changes are in store

She later added: “Moan one might, but it would be very alarming to be completely on your own with nothing to do except lie down.”

Referring to her great one liners in the period drama, she paid tribute to writer Julian Fellowes and said: “That is Julian. In Gosford Park I had a few of those put downs and I think he bore that in mind. They are wonderful but I get accused of making things up myself but they are all his.”

Despite the show’s final episodes having not yet been screened, there is already continued talk about a film version for the big screen in the future.

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Friendships will be tested

No script is yet written but Maggie Smith would be happy to take part in the future.

She said: “A film? Yes. My wig has been around for a long time so I am not sure it will be around, but hopefully I will be. The wig is more tired than I am. But a film would be fun.”

The final series starts with Downton Abbey trying to save money and staff are set to be made redundant.

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The entire cast gathered together

There is also set to be plenty more drama upstairs for Lady Mary and downstairs for John and Anna Bates.

Writer Julian Fellowes admitted it was hard to say goodbye to the show. He said: “I say goodbye to these golden years with a slight pang. There was sadness saying goodbye to the characters.”

Downton Abbey’s final series begins on ITV next month.

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