Downton AbbeyITV have released a statement about the unexpected, and to some shocking, departure of character Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey yesterday. The broadcaster note it was actor Dan Stevens who brought about the plot twist.

“After three successful series and two Christmas editions of Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens decided not to renew his contract beyond the initial three years he had been contracted.” The broadcaster note.

“We wish him every success for the future. Michelle Dockery will be returning to her role as Lady Mary in series four which begins production in February.” They add.

Over the last three years, audiences have enjoyed the ups and downs of Mary and Matthew’s relationship, culminating in their wedding. Downton viewers have followed the plots showing a solid and loving marriage. With that in mind the producers of the hit ITV1 drama decided due to the on-screen strength of the relationship that Matthew and Mary could not be estranged or parted instead bosses behind the show deciding to kill-off the character which was seen at the end of the Christmas episode.

Fans took to Twitter to express their shock at the demise of Matthew, ‘We waited two series for Mary and Matt to marry. One measly series of them together and now this?!?!?!?’, ‘Unbelievable. They let him survive all that WWI stuff just to kill him off at his happiest moment. Bastards’, ‘Julian Fellows, you unspeakable wretch. That was totally unnecessary’ and ‘Julian Fellowes is officially the grinch who stole Christmas.’

The backlash against writer Fellows seems to have lead to ITV releasing the statement today, in order to make it clear the actor is behind the end of the happy couple, not ITV, the producers or the writer.

“In the next series, alongside all the usual drama, comedy and romance involving the much loved cast of characters, viewers will see Mary adjusting to her life and attempting to move on without the man she loved.” ITV add.

The character was killed-off in a car crash in last nights festive episode.

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