‘Belgravia': Gareth Neame and Tamsin Greig on Making ‘Downton Abbey’ With ‘Edge,’ Possibility of Season 2

Epix period drama’s finale airs Sunday

Last Updated: May 14, 2020 @ 11:59 AM

(Warning: This post contains spoilers through Episode 5 of “Belgravia.”)

“Downton Abbey” duo Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame’s Epix limited series “Belgravia” comes to an end this Sunday with an episode that Neame promises will bring the mysteries at the center of this tale of secrets and scandals in 19th century London to a satisfying conclusion.

“Fans can expect to see the truth will out, as all of the different members of the different families find out the truth about Charles Pope and who he is exactly and what his role in the family is,” Neame told TheWrap. “So all of the different factions who are out for themselves, we’ll see what their outcome is.”

If you have read Fellowes’ novel “Belgravia,” then you already have a good idea about how all of this comes to an end, as Neame tells us the six-part show stays true to Fellowes’ tale. But if the idea of leaving the Trenchards and Brockenhursts behind for good with this final chapter breaks your heart, you’ll be happy to hear Neame is not shutting the door on the idea of a Season 2.

“We definitely made this as a limited series because it’s really enjoyable at times to have a clear beginning, middle and end,” Neame said. “And it’s obviously been adapted from a novel that has a clear ending. So that’s where we are right now. But obviously one never knows. If we find it does really well and we find another way to bring the title back in the future then I guess we would consider that. But right now it’s very clearly a limited series. And we know from feedback already on the initial episodes, and the whole show has played out here in the UK, that fans of other work that we’ve done have really enjoyed this. They’ve loved the complexity of the story. They’ve loved the mystery and the thriller element of it. The fact that while there is still the social observation and the comedy of manners that we explored for six seasons and the movie of ‘Downton Abbey,’ this has got a darker element to it. More mystery and intrigue.”

Speaking of “Downton Abbey,” Neame says he and Fellowes are well aware that “Belgravia” viewers are sure to be seeing a lot of “Downton” in their Epix show — he just hopes you also see the “edge” that’s there, too.

“We were never under any doubt that that would be the case because it’s written and produced by the same people and we’ve used many of our creative partners and there are definitely, as I said, there are common themes,” Neame told us. “There’s no question about it. There’s a mixture of drama, comedy and romances, just as there was with ‘Downton.’ There’s particularly lots of focus on the comedy of manners, behavior, society and the class system. So all of those things are similar, but this has got the standalone plot across those six hours. There’s an element of thriller and mystery and skullduggery in a way that wasn’t in ‘Downton.’ You also see a more complex relationship, I think, between the different families and their servants. It was quite a benign relationship in ‘Downton Abbey.’ You see these people getting along more or less. But that’s not the case here.”

He added: “There is much more a sense of people out for themselves and getting what they can get and looking after No. 1 and there is a lot more villainy in this whole piece, I suppose. So we don’t mind the comparison. But also, when people watch the show they can see, if you’re a fan of ‘Downton,’ you’ll like this, but it’s also very different and it definitely stands alone in its own right. You don’t need to watch ‘Downton.’ And a lot of people have said to me, who have now seen all the episodes, that they prefer it to ‘Downton Abbey’ because it’s got that edge, it has a bit more grit to it.”

And “Belgravia” star Tamsin Grieg, who you have come to know and love as Anne Trenchard, definitely agrees with the man behind the camera.

“I think any author will have a particular style and tone that is recognizable,” she told us. “I think this is definitely darker than ‘Downton.’ It’s interesting, isn’t it, you can go and see ‘Macbeth’ and you can go see ‘Comedy of Errors’ and somebody won’t say, ‘Yeah, but they’re both Shakespeare.’ You’re being taken on a journey creatively by the same person, so there are going to be elements of continuity and recognition in that. But I think there’s enough difference in ‘Belgravia’ to make it really intriguing and palatable and stand alone. It’s like a really interesting, darker, slightly more unpredictable cousin in a family that you don’t quite know where they’re going to go next. And that’s been fun to hang around with.”

While Grieg tells us she has loved playing Anne, she is willing to part with the character for your own good — if a Season 2 is what’s no good, that is.

“I think that this story on its own has been so satisfying. I’m a real fan of leaving a party at the right time and not outstaying my welcome. And so I think that a second look at these characters would have been contained in a really intriguing and robust story that wouldn’t undermine the original story,” Grieg said. “So of course it’s always interesting to revisit characters and see how they have developed in the interim time. But I think that’s like going on a second date. It has to really live up to the first date or you’re not going back to it.”

The “Belgravia” finale airs Sunday at 9/8c on Epix.