When he’s not busy writing reports to assist David Cameron in his attempts to balls up the UK film industry by only supporting “mainstream films,” Julian Fellowes is quietly going about penning one of the most successful dramas on television right now. “Downton Abbey” is now in its third season and its popularity shows no signs of waning (last night’s episode pulling in nearly 10m live viewers in the U.K.) – so appropriately BAFTA selected the Oscar-winning writer Fellowes (“Gosford Park”) to kick off their 2012 series of annual screenwriters lectures.
His other credits include “Vanity Fair,” “The Young Victoria” and “The Tourist,” but understandably the topic of conversation that people were most interested was 'Downton,' and Fellowes got fans of the show very interested indeed when he suggested there may potentially be a spin-off at some point down the line.
"I do actually have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship of Robert and Cora, when all those American heiresses were arriving in London. They had a slightly troubled courtship, because she was in love with him before they married, as we know, and he married her entirely for her money. I sort of feel there's something quite nice in there because he's a decent cove, and so he feels rather guilty about this which has affected their marriage beyond that," said Fellowes. So if it comes to fruition expect to see two young actors in the roles made famous by Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, and could possibly stray from the Abbey with scenes taking place on both sides of the Atlantic.
Fellowes went on to add that he wouldn’t consider the spin-off until after "Downton Abbey" had finished (which could be some time), and that he would also be open to the idea of continuing the show through potentially a stage play or film. And hey, any such project shouldn’t have any trouble securing funding given its huge mainstream success potential. Fellowes screenwriting lecture will be available to read and listen to through BAFTA’s site later in the week, and also lined up to speak in the coming weeks are Scott Frank (“Out of Sight”), Peter Straughan (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”), Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) and Abi Morgan (“Shame”). [BBC]