Maggie Smith Might Be Done with ‘Downton Abbey’ After Season 6

Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess (Photo: ©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE)
Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess (Photo: ©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE)
Oh, dear. Downton Abbey fans, brace yourselves, it looks like big changes could be headed our way – star Maggie Smith has indicated that the next season of the world’s most popular costume drama will be her last with the show.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph promoting her upcoming film The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Smith commented a bit on the next season of Downton Abbey, and her words definitely seem to imply that she doesn’t plan to have much of a future with the show beyond next season. 

"They say this is the last one, and I can't see how it could go on," Smith told the UK newspaper. "I mean, I certainly can't keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We're into the late 1920s."

While the Season 5 finale just aired here in the US this week, the show has actually been off the air for a couple of months already in the UK, and production on the new season is already starting to gear up.

This bit of news certainly lends a bit more credence to those rumors swirling around earlier this year that the sixth season of Downton will be the show’s last. (Here’s the original article on this in the Mirror.) In some ways, this news wouldn’t be entirely unexpected, the cast’s contracts are surely all reaching their ends, and for many of their characters, their stories are reaching natural endpoints.

However, it’s not the time to panic just yet. Executive producer Gareth Neame told Deadline that Smith has only ever been contracted with the show on a year-by-year basis, and that her comments are “Nothing we haven’t heard before from Maggie”.  (This is actually pretty true – we’ve definitely had this sort of discussion before, even right here on this blog!) And, this is all so much moot speculation until we know for sure whether the show has been greenlit for a seventh season anyway.

While we would all obviously miss spending our Sunday nights with the Crawley family, don’t we all want the show to go out on top?  (Or, depending on how you feel about certain Season 5 storylines, before it becomes too repetitive and/or a caricature of its former glory?)  It’s also entirely possible that the show could continue without Smith – the loss of the Dowager Countess would be devastating, but Fellowes has always said he’d simply send her off to the seashore to rest, not kill the character off. So, anything is possible – we’ll just have to wait and see.

Season 6 begins filming this spring. We’ll likely hear more about the show and its plans for the future in the coming months. Till then, sit tight, and maybe just watch the last half hour of the Season 5 finale over a few times. That Carson and Mrs. Hughes stuff will improve anyone’s day.

What do you think about these rumors? Would you watch a Dowager-less Downton? Or do you think the show should wrap it up next year?

Hit us with your thoughts in the comments. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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