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'Downton Abbey' creator Julian Fellowes: 'Matthew Crawley had to die'

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Downton Abbey creator and writer Julian Fellowes has revealed that he had no choice but to kill off Matthew Crawley.

The 63-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter that he found it "testing" to write out the character after actor Dan Stevens revealed he wished to leave the show.

Julian Fellowes

© PA Images / Matt Sayles/AP

Julian Fellowes



Matthew Crawley was killed in a car accident during the Christmas special of the Emmy Award-winning ITV drama, just after wife Lady Mary had given birth to their first child.

However, Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) had recently been killed off too, presenting a challenge for Fellowes.

"We knew Jessica was leaving from quite a long time before," the writer said. "And so we completely decided calmly to kill her off in the fifth episode, so that would give people three episodes to recover, and then we'd have the Christmas special and everyone could move forward.

"So we had a whole episode of her dying. But having done that, when the news came through that Dan was also leaving we couldn't very well do it again, so that was a bit testing."

Dan Stevens, Human Rights Campaign for Marriage Equality event held at Calvin Klein, New York, weight loss

© Gregory Pace/BEI/Rex Features

Dan Stevens



Fellowes added that it wasn't "a workable scenario" to have Stevens's character "taking against" his wife and disappearing.

Gareth Neame, executive producer for the show, added: "We were all agreed that the only way we could break Mary and Matthew apart was for one to die. There really was no alternative."

Summer in February star Stevens this week apologised for his character's exit, while in May, Neame stated that he thought the show could run for ten years.

Series four of the period drama has already begun filming, although an air date has yet to be confirmed.

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