'Downton Abbey' Creator Julian Fellowes Mulls Introduction of Ethnic Characters

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LONDON – Oscar-winning writer and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes said he is considering the introduction of black or Indian characters on the costume drama as it awaits word on whether it will return to British TV for a fourth season.

“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,” Fellowes told The Daily Telegraph.

"We haven't announced any further news on that front," an ITV representative told THR on Monday.

Fellowes, in an interview with the paper, also said it would be “rather nice to open it up ethnically a bit” amid criticism from some that his show does not contain an ethnically diverse cast. He also told the paper he thinks it would be a "rather a good idea" to introduce a more multicultural mix.

"You have to work it in in a way that is historically believable, but I am sure we could do that," Fellowes told the Telegraph. "[The show] certainly ought to have an Indian character from that period."

Introducing characters from ethnic backgrounds into Downton would copy a move by Upstairs Downstairs, the rival period drama from the BBC, which was cancelled in April this year after losing the ratings battle with Fellowes' creation.

Downton Abbey finished its third season on U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV1 on Sunday with a season-high ratings performance, bringing to an end what the network says was the highest-rated season of the show to-date.

There are plans for the commercial network to air a two-hour Downton Abbey special on Christmas Day this year, repeating a successful formula introduced last year.

Georg Szalai contributed to this report.

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