Downton Abbey is on a high in the USA: the British period drama is charming scores more viewers than ever before for a fourth season, hitting new records for its stateside performance. American viewers are hooked on the drama and mysteries of the aristocratic Crawley family in Julian Fellowes' hugely successful show.

Downton Abbey
Fears That 'Downton Abbey' Will Soon End Underpin News Of The Drama's Stateside Success.

So why is it then that the future of the show, which has just aired its fifth episode of season four in the US, is so unclear with rumours emerging that Fellowes and the Downton team could be set to pack up shop sooner than anticipated to move on to new projects? Downton has struggled with ratings in the UK, having steadily experienced falling viewers throughout its fourth outing, which aired in the second half of last year.

The drama has een struggling to attract the same level of viewers in the UK as in previous seasons. The viewing levels upon the programme's return were healthy nonetheless, with an average of 11.8 million viewers across series four, but saw a gradual decrease over time. This news was certainly troubling but it was Fellowes himself who indicated that the end was nigh for the drama.

Downton Abbey Jim Carter
Writer Julian Fellowes Has Stoked The Rumors That His Show Won't Reach Its Sixth Season.

When quizzed by the Wall Street Journal about more seasons, Fellowes seemed sceptical. "I don't know yet if there is a season 6, but it's not going to go on forever. It won't be 'Perry Mason'," he said. Contrary to the falling viewers trend in the UK, Fellowes' award-winning drama hit ratings an encouraging 22% higher than the series three premiere in the US, the country where the programme has consistently received its highest ratings, according to Nielsen statistics.

What's more, executive Producer Gareth Neame told the Sydney Morning Herald that news the show is drawing to a close is premature, saying that "there is no plan to end the show" anytime in the near future. "It won't go on forever," Neame did admit, adding "No show does, [but] the show - first telecast in Britain in 2010 - will live to an age of somewhere between five and 10 years."

Downton Abbey Daisy Mason
The EP Has Reassured 'DA' Fans That The Drama Is Not Suddenly About To End.

The EP also made efforts to undo the damage done by Fellowes sombre WSJ interview. "We don't know beyond season five because that's the order (from ITV and PBS) that we've got and that's the season that we're making," Neame explained.

So it appears that there's no concrete decision yet on how long Downton will run for. What we do know is that Fellowes is going to be busier than ever when his attention is turned to The Gilded Age, a new show crafted for US audiences that will focus on the old American aristocracy and the "new money of oil and gas and shipping in the 1870s," according to the writer.

The fifth season of Downton Abbey is due to begin filming in February.