Downton Abbey reportedly set to end after sixth series as stars look for new projects in US

Downton Abbey dinners at which insults are traded and Carson stews over breeches of etiquette are soon to end. In shocking news for fans of the beloved upstairs-downstairs drama, it's being suggested that the show will end after the sixth series.

Creator Julian Fellowes is set to start work on a new US period drama The Gilded Age and it's thought he won't have time for two such big projects.

The Dowager Countess played by Maggie Smith has hardly aged since the opening series

According to the Mirror, a source has said "it's an open secret" that the next series will be the last.

The source added: "Some of the actors are keen to let it be known they will be available for work after the summer. Some are interested in the US, where Downton is as popular as it is in the UK.

"Joanne Froggatt, Edith Carmichael and Allen Leech were in Los Angeles for the awards last week and there were meetings about both TV and film roles."

Joanne, who has had some of the strongest storylines as Anna, picked up a Golden Globe this year. Her character survived rape and was investigated for the murder of her attacker in the last two series.The actress described the win as "the most shocking moment of her life".

The cast of Downton Abbey want to capitalise on their recent success in the US

However, a few weeks later the Downton crew did it again, winning the trophy for best ensemble at the SAG Awards. This was the second time the show, which stars Maggie Smith as the acid-tongued Dowager Countess and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, triumphed at the SAGs.

While the drama retains its popularity some viewers have pointed out that the characters have hardly aged, but the action on screen has spanned over a decade. It began in 1912 and the 2014 Christmas special was set in 1924.

The Dowager remains as spritely as ever despite being well into her 80s. Meanwhile, Mary has survived widowhood, countless scandals and deaths in the family without gaining a single wrinkle in the intervening years.