BAMPTON residents are urging TV bosses to commission a sixth series of Downton Abbey after the series creator cast doubt on its future.
Julian Fellowes said the saga would not go on forever and has hinted that the next series of the hit show could be its last.
The ITV drama, telling the story of the aristocratic Crawley family, is set to return to TV screens later this year for the fifth series, having made its debut in 2010.
But in an interview, Lord Fellowes cast doubt over the likelihood of a sixth series, filmed partly in Bampton which has brought thousands of pounds to the village.
The writer has been commissioned to write a new American drama called The Gilded Age but told The Wall Street Journal that work on the programme would not start until Downton had come to an end.
Lord Fellowes said: “It’s for NBC Universal and it will happen when Downton finishes, because I just couldn’t do both at once.
“I don’t know yet if there is a season six (of Downton), but it’s not going to go on forever.”
Jo Lewington, founder of the Bampton Community Archive, which sells Downton Abbey postcards to tourists, said: “We get visitors from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand and even Mongolia because of Downton.
“The bubble will burst eventually but it’s nice while it lasts – most people in the village think Downton is a good thing.”
Richard Wilkins, whose wife Grace is treasurer of the Bampton Community Archive, added: “Villagers would be disappointed if there is not going to be a sixth series.
“Lots of the tourists who come to Bampton come here because of the series.”
In Bampton, a village archive has started a limited company to deal with money it is making from selling Downton Abbey souvenirs.
Archive chairman Robin Shuckburgh, 65, said: “Early on we realised that we were likely to get some visiting tourists from the enormous fan base of the series.
“We therefore created some souvenirs of Bampton and Downton. Sales of the items we created have been reasonable, and the archive benefited as a result.”
Downton Abbey’s executive producer and Carnival Films’ managing director Gareth Neame said: “There are no plans to end the show after the fifth series”.
Jeanette Howse, Tourism South East business development executive for Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, said: “Our tourist information centres in Oxford and Faringdon get lots of visitors who want to go to Bampton to see the set locations.
“Residents in Bampton have embraced the filming and as a result this must have brought in thousands of pounds, with money spent in the tea shop, art gallery and garden centre.”