Downton Abbey’s Brendan Coyle has told Radio Times that the stars of the show know exactly when it’s going to end. So, if you were hoping that Downton Abbey would somehow evolve into a soap opera, with no shelf life, then we’re afraid you must be prepared to be disappointed. “I can pretty much say all of [the cast] know when Downton is going to end,” revealed Coyle, whose character Mr. Bates is currently serving time for allegedly murdering his wife. “This is a show with a finite life,” he stressed. “If we bring this into the 50s, it’s Emmerdale. Though I really like Emmerdale…”

What you can look forward to – even if it’s not endless episodes of Downton Abbey from now until kingdom come, is more drama and more ambiguity. “If you think it’s ambiguous now, it gets more ambiguous,” Coyle explains, teasingly. “Bates has been in the Boer War… he would have killed a lot of people. Does that mean he can kill his wife? What does it do to you?” Bates’ innocence, or otherwise, is currently one of the central debates of the show.

Last weekend, social networking sites were ablaze with misery as one of Downton Abbey’s best-loved characters, Lady Sybil (played by Jessica Brown Findlay), died shortly after childbirth. With Downton Abbey Season 3 in full swing in the UK, Julian Fellowes’ period drama has become a favourite both at home in the UK and across the pond in the United States. But just when, exactly, will its lifespan come to an end?