This has literally got to be the best news we have heard this year so far – Dame Maggie Smith is not leaving Downton Abbey!
One of Downton’s finest features since it first launched on our ITV screens back in 2010 was the Dowager Countess, whose razor sharp wit and sarcastic undertones lifted the show unlike anything else.
So when rumours began circulating, and not for the first time either, that Dame Maggie Smith was considering leaving the show we all held our breath!
But fear not as executive producer, Gareth Neame, has dismissed these rumours in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview.
Discussing the prospect of Smith’s departure, Neame assured the publication that the part of Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, was the British acting legend’s for as long as she wanted.
Furthermore he went on to reveal that Smith would most definitely be returning with the rest of the cast for series 5, which is due to commence filming late this year, as she is still really enjoying the show, and being a part of it, explaining:
“She’s a huge part of the show, and I think she enjoys doing it.”
Dame Maggie Smith, who is 79 years of age, has always been one of the most pinnacle posts in the Downton estate, and Neame agrees as he described the Harry Potter star as being the “muse” of the show’s creator and writer, Julian Fellowes, adding how well the pair work together, explaining:
“I think it’s remarkable for someone who’s had such a long and illustrious career [as Maggie] to be still delivering work of this calibre,”
With this in mind, the excitement for series 5, which is due to star Richard E Grant as well as all our favourite stars such as Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery, is as electric as ever!
Filming is expected to begin soon with the series being planned for broadcast in its usual autumn slot.
Watch an interview with Dame Maggie and her co-star Penelope Wilton discussing Downton in the clip below: