On Christmas Day, Downton Abbey – the most successful ITV drama of all time – will end after five years and six series. Ahead of its big finale this week, Julie Walters presented the cast and crew with an honorary BAFTA during a special ceremony at Richmond Theatre, and a host of famous fans went on camera to pay tribute to the show.
Prince William led the way, stating that Downton is "one of Catherine's and my favourite programmes".
Prince William was among those paying tribute to Downton Abbey
"When I first heard that Downton Abbey was to receive the BAFTA special award, I was absolutely thrilled," the Duke of Cambridge said. "As the president of BAFTA, I’m delighted that we are paying tribute to this extraordinary series that has flown the flag for British drama both at home and internationally."
Also declaring his love for the show was Sir Anthony Hopkins, who described himself as a "great fan". "I've watched the entire series, didn't miss episode," the Welsh actor revealed.
The cast and crew all attended the special ceremony
Sharon Osbourne is also a super fan. "I'm obsessed with Downton Abbey!" she said in the clip. "Downton is so special for me because of the storylines, they just pull you back in." Whoopi Goldberg, meanwhile, described the series as "superb". "It's like a movie," the star added. "It's like an incredibly gorgeous film."
The most surprising celebrity viewer turned out to be rapper Sean 'P Diddy' Combs. "The show is excellent, the writing was incredible," he said. "I'm a fan of British actors, and the style of acting, and the effortlessness of it."
It’s not the first time that William has spoken about his love of the show. Last Christmas, he revealed that he and the Duchess of Cambridge would be tuning in for the drama's festive edition. And earlier this year, Kate visited the set of the show, meeting cast and crew and touring the behind-the-scenes areas.
Maggie Smith, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, on stage with Hugh Bonneville, Robert Crawley
William and Kate aren't the only royal fans of the show – so too is the Duchess of Cornwall. "Camilla loves Downton Abbey," Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs Patmore, told The Express. "We have spoken and she genuinely loves the show.
"When I was talking to Prince Charles he had a slightly glazed look, although being very nice," she added. "Then somebody said, 'Sir, do you know Downton Abbey?' and he replied, 'Oh, I sort of come and go, really.' So I thought, 'I'm on a loser now,' but I think a lot of the royals do watch it."