There are a handful of shows that I love so very deeply that any criticism of them offends me more than any dispersion you could cast against my mother. Suits and Orange Is the New Black are two of these programmes, but as they are almost universally loved I rarely feel the need to defend them. Likewise The Great British Bake Off, although even that has somehow pricked the trolls on Twitter and in the media.

However there is another love of mine that gets sniped at, mocked and generally treated as something that lowers the intellectual tone of TV. This is despite it taking us through every human emotion, even to the darkest ones, yet somehow still lifting us. Oh, Downton Abbey, how the intellectual snobs of this world beat you.

There is an inclination with Downton to defend it as a bit of silly escapist fluff. That is because it shares many of the qualities with other Sunday night programmes – set in the past (yet with strangely modern lead characters), slightly daft storylines and a general feeling of warmth emanating from it. It is the hot cocoa of the TV world. And yes, there are some truth’s in the critiques. For example, the ridiculous excitement over the pigs has slipped beyond parody. The hospital storyline in this series has been considered dull, although how anything that allows Maggie Smith to play the Dowager at her most commanding can be seen as dull is beyond me.

Beyond the light though there are some shadows lengthening. Barrow, the evil under-butler, is finding he is reaping what he has sown, slowly being destroyed by the energy that sustained him. Livelihoods are under threat and the world is changing. Even Lord Grantham himself is not immune, as his stomach ulcer exploding over the dinner table last week testified. This is cocoa with a shot of dark rum in it.

Yet you can’t help but hope that as the show draws to a close (this is its final series plus a Christmas special) that happy endings must be in the offing for most. Some are already taking root, as Carson and Mrs Hughes finally have each other and not just a lifetime of service, and the Bates potentially have a child on the way. I pray that not everyone is married off at the end though. Lady Mary, yes, she is at her best when sparring with a man, but it would be nice to see Lady Edith forge her own way in the world. That’s not to say she can’t fall in love, but a conventional marriage just isn’t her thing. Far better to enjoy a bohemian life and to have accomplishments beyond the domestic for her to celebrate.

The fact you care so much for the destinations of the characters, and how you picture their life when the show ends, testifies to its greatness. Perhaps, in a world where so few of us are joyful, happy endings all round is just what the doctor ordered.