'The Character Had To Die': Downton Abbey Bosses Admit They Had To Kill Matthew Crawley

Dan Stevens decided to not return to the period drama for a new series

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Bosses of Downton Abbey have admitted that they had to kill of Dan Steven's character Matthew Crawley because they couldn't see any other way of writing the actor out of the show.

Last year saw speculation around Dan's future on the show reach fever pitch with the Christmas special - where Matthew died in a car crash - finally confirming that Dan had left the hugely popular period drama.

Revealing in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the process of how they decided to write Dan out, executive Gareth Neame said:

"I think we weren’t really faced with an alternative storyline, because I think audiences would not have accepted Mary and Matthew becoming estranged. It was too big a journey that the audience had been on with this relationship.

"The idea that he would go off on the journey and she wouldn’t go with him, or the idea that he would leave her or she would leave him, I think that would have been so disappointing and unbelievable to an audience. The only course open to us was that the character had to die."

Dan's character Matthew died in the last episode of Downton Abbey (WENN)

Admitting that they tried to persuade Dan to stay, Neame added:

"Well we certainly didn’t want Dan to [leave], we very much would have liked Dan to have stayed and persuaded him to stay, the same that we did with every other member of the cast."

Whilst Dan may not be returning to the show, Dame Maggie Smith looks set to return as the Dowager Countess. However you won't catch the iconic actress watching herself back after she confessed to US TV Show, 60 Minutes that she hasn't seen Downton.

She said: "I was just pausing because I've never actually seen it. I don't sit down and watch it. No, I've never watched it.

"I will look at it when it's all over, maybe, because it's frustrating - I always see things that I would like to do differently, and think 'why in the name of God did I do that?'."

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