'It would be rather nice to open it up ethnically…': Downton creator Julian Fellowes on plans to introduce black or Indian characters to the Abbey
15:18 GMT, 5 November 2012
Plans for the future: Julian Fellowes has revealed he would like to introduce black or Indian characters to Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has revealed his plans to introduce black or Indian characters into the ITV period drama.
The Emmy-award winning screenwriter said it 'would be rather nice to open the show up ethnically', but admitted he would have to think about how best to make the introduction historically believable.
The first series of Downton was set between 1912 and 1914, before it moved to 1916 and 1918 for the second series and most recently the 1920s in the third season of the show, which ended with an exciting finale on Sunday night.
Asked if he would like to make Downton more multi-cultural, Fellowes said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph: 'Oh I think that’s rather a good idea. You have to work it in in a way that is historically believable, but I am sure we could do that.
'The show certainly ought to have an Indian character from that period.'
It came as viewing figures showed the series ended on a high, with 10.7 million viewers tuning into watch the finale of the third series.
Last night's instalment was the highest-rating episode of the series, which saw US star Shirley MacLaine join the likes of Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
Downton Abbey averaged 9.7 million viewers across the series, making it the highest-rating drama of the year so far, ITV said.
If Fellowes does stick to his plan, he will be following in the footsteps of ITV show Midsomer Murders, who introduced an Asian family after producer Brian True-May caused controversy when he said the show wouldn't work if it included ethnic minorities.
In the Radio Times, he described Midsomer Murders as the 'last bastion of Englishness' which relied on an ‘English genteel eccentricity’, and suggested it would not work if there was racial diversity in the village. He also said that if he had more minority cast members 'we might be in Slough'.
'Opening it up ethnically': Downton has been criticised in the past for its lack of ethnic minority characters
True-May later apologised through production company All3Media, who said that he was sorry if his remarks gave 'unintended offence'.
The introduction of an Indian character to Downton is likely to cause comparisons between the show and the recent BBC remake of costume drama Upstairs Downstairs, which starred Art Malik as Sikh secretary Mr Amanjit.
However, while Fellowes is hoping to reach new heights with a fourth series of Downton, he was quick to admit that a further sesason of the show has yet to be officially commissioned.
He said: 'I would hope there will be more because of the response to this series, but you know ITV are always pretty close to their chest in terms of an actual commission.
'But I think I’d be surprised if there was not a fourth series.'
The second series of Downton Abbey concluded on ITV1 with an average of 10.7 million viewers.
No official announcement has been made about a fourth series of Downton, in which a new character appeared last night.
A special festive episode will be broadcast this Christmas.
Comparisons: Art Malik starred as Sikh secretary Mr Amanjit in the BBC remake of Upstairs Downstairs