New Delhi: After entertaining fans for five seasons, British period drama TV series "Downton Abbey" has reached its apex with the sixth and final season. However, despite its predominantly British setting, actor Hugh Bonneville believes the show has garnered worlwide acclaim as "the story being told is universal".
"I think it is very heartening from a British perspective to feel that shows like this have been given a boost. When it started off, no one thought that it would be anything special. We were so surprised and delighted when it was embraced by British audiences.
"I was doubtful whether it would travel overseas because it is quintessentially British," Bonneville told IANS in a telephonic interview from Jodhpur, where he is currently enjoying shooting for Gurinder Chadha's "Viceroy's House".
The actor recollects once receiving a letter from somebody in China saying, "What a fascinating observation of Chinese social structure".
"I think that the story being told is universal. The characters are universally recognised. The relationships are true to all human behaviour, whichever part of the world you come from," added the 51-year-old, who reprises his role as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, in the new season of Star World Premiere HD's "Downton Abbey".
The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, depicts how the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their helpers, and the British social heirarchy gets affected by historical events.
According to Bonneville, the final season of the show "comes as a hallmark of the end of an era - both literally and emotionally within the story".
"You see the characters being forced to accept that the times are not as they were. A combination of taxes, land being sold, costs going up," he added.
About his character Robert Crawley's development in the new season, Bonneville said: "One of the key features for Robert is how to best preserve the estate for the future generations in the sixth season. There is a sense of drawing things to an end."
The tone of the final season is similar to that of the first season, Bonneville says.
"It focuses much more on the people in the house, the characters whom the audiences like and have come to love. While there is the usual mix of out and out melodrama, high comedy and even tearful moments, touching moments in different story lines, there are also a couple of big surprises," he added.
The actor said that the "final episode ends in a way that would leave audiences satisfied."
"Some stories are tied up and some are left open, because that's true to life. We don't want to know the ending of our lives," he said, adding that just like its predecessors, the new season will also contain surprises.
"It is more of the same, each season has thrown up some surprises which the audiences didn't predict and I when I read them, I quite didn't believe what I was reading. They are delicious in their own way and our audiences would be delighted and particularly by the mood of the season."
"It is warm and embracing as the first season was - full of drama and conflict, but it shows that people who we are trying to spend life with," he added.