Fans of Downton Abbey can all breathe a sigh of relief; Dame Maggie Smith is NOT leaving Downton Abbey!
Speaking at this year’s Golden Globes where British legend, Dame Maggie Smith picked up an award for best supporting actress as her role of the Downton Abbey feisty matriarch, the Dowager Countess, show creator Julian Fellowes confirmed that the iconic actress would indeed be returning to the show, not just for the fourth series, but for this year’s Christmas Special too!
Fans of the award-winning period drama were left wondering the fate of the Dowager Countess after the last series when it was revealed that health concerns may have meant Dame Maggie had to retire from acting.
It was reported at the time that Dame Maggie who plays the Grantham matriarch, The Dowager Countess, in the hugely popular ITV drama, was taken to a specialist cardiac unit at the private Wellington Hospital in London after complaining of severe pains and underwent a series of emergency tests, before being discharged later that same day after her condition was monitored and stabilised by medics.
A source close to the star said at the time: “It was a big scare for Maggie and she was really worried because she was in a lot of pain.
“It was extremely distressing for her but she did the right thing and made sure she got to hospital as soon as possible.
“Maggie loves her work and her performances in Downton have helped make it a worldwide success.
“But she will have to think very carefully now about whether she stays in the show. Her health always comes first and I am sure she will take advice from the experts.”
“Maggie was in the best possible hands at the Wellington Hospital.
“It was obviously a worrying time for her but she underwent all the tests possible. She was only discharged when the cardiologist was completely satisfied she was OK.”
Dame Maggie, who has already fought breast cancer, was awarded the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series award at the 64th Emmy Awards in Hollywood last September for her role in Downton, but said in a 2009 interview that she contemplated giving up theatre after being “knocked sideways” by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Talking about the cancer, which was diagnosed in 2008, she said: “It leaves you so flattened.
“I’m not sure I could go back to theatre work, although film work is more tiring. I feel very uncertain.
“It knocks you sideways. I am fearful of the amount of energy one needs to be in a film or a play.”
“The last couple of years have been a write-off, though I’m beginning to feel like a person now.”
Show creator Julian Fellowes, did not help speculation at the time by commenting: “I can’t tell you, ‘Oh, yes, she’s definitely contracted because she isn’t. It’s entirely up to her when she stays and when she goes.
“With Maggie, you never know. Others sign on for the next series and they sign for this and they sign for that, but she doesn’t. She stays her own person. But as far as I’m concerned I hope she stays with the show until Downton falls down.”
However, Fellowes then came forward last year to say that he has no intentions of killing off Dame Maggie Smith’s character Violet, even if Dame Maggie decided to quit the show, according to the Sun newspaper.
According to the publication, Julian said at the time: “I’m happy to say the Dowager is not going to die.”
“Violet is going to live by the sea in case Maggie changes her mind,” he joked.
Now, after her Golden Globe success, Julian has confirmed that not only is the Dowager not going to die, she will also not be leaving Downton!
Speaking after the prestigious ceremony, Julian said of Dame Maggie: “Maggie’s secret is that she’s very, very, very good. She’s mesmeric.
“She’s very funny, very witty yet also incredibly truthful and very moving.
“That’s an interesting double act – not everyone can pull it off.
“We’re incredibly lucky to have her in the show.”
Watch a hilarious Dowager Countess moment in the clip below: