Maggie Smith Hints At ‘Downton Abbey’ Departure

Season 5 of Downton Abbey concluded last night in the U.S. while Season 6 is currently shooting in Britain. A perennial question surrounding the show ever since its early global success has been just how long it will keep going. Executive producer Gareth Neame told Deadline yesterday that is the question he’s asked “a dozen times a day. I don’t think I have ever known such speculation.” But there has also been earlier speculation surrounding Maggie Smith’s future in the series, some of which the candid Oscar winner has stirred herself. In a new interview with the UK’s Sunday Times, Smith hints at her departure from the series saying with regard to anything beyond Season 6, “I certainly can’t keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We’re into the late 1920s” in the storyline.

So, has Lady Violet Crawley spilled the beans herself? Or is this Smith being Smith with a little ascerbic Dowager Countess thrown in? Regarding her comments, Neame points out that Smith has only ever been with the show on a year-by-year basis, and tells me today, it’s “Nothing we haven’t heard before from Maggie.” Speculation may be futile at this pont since it’s not known whehter there will be a Season 7.

In the interview, Smith also comments that “they” say Season 6 “is the last one and I can’t see how it could go on.” It’s not clear who “they” are, but Neame told Deadline on Sunday, “Three years ago I was told that Season 3 was the last! We’ll call time when we think the time is right.”

Smith is currently starring in the No. 1 film in the UK, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which grossed $5.85M over the weekend.

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