UPDATED: Maggie Smith says “Downton Abbey” likely to end after next season

With filming underway on the sixth season of Downton Abbey, Dame Maggie Smith has told the Sunday Times that this season will probably be the last. In particular, Smith’s character, the fan-favorite Dowager Countess of Grantham, is unlikely to return due to her advanced age.

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

UPDATE: A spokesperson confirmed that Smith has always planned to “be with the show for as long as the show runs,” in response to reports that she would be leaving.

Smith also describes how the extreme success of the show has made her more recognizable than ever before, something which makes her uncomfortable in public.

One isn’t safe after doing Downton. What’s sad is, I’ve gone through my whole life without any of that. I could go ’round galleries and things on my own, and I just can’t do it now. If someone decides to get at you, you can’t get away.

The selfies she finds particularly irksome.

What’s awful is it used to be just autographs, but now everyone wants photographs. You begin to feel like all those people who believed photographs took the soul away. There’s nothing like privacy, but nobody will have that soon. Nobody’s private anymore.

Having recently turned 80, Smith admits that continuing to work at her age can be difficult. Nevertheless, she plans to keep acting as long as she can.

When you’re not working it’s scary, and when you are working it’s scary because you don’t know if you’ve got the energy to get through the day. But the bleakness of not doing it, and missing out on the friendships that you make, is too much to bear.

Do you think it’s time for Downton to end after the sixth season, or would you like to see it continue?
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Catherine Lai

I have been a fan of Harry since 2000, a fan of MuggleNet since 2005, and a MuggleNet team member since 2013. I believe in the power of stories to bring people together, and nothing does that quite like Harry Potter. I’m an annoyingly proud Canadian and live in Toronto.