There are so many reasons for Downton Abbey’s success as a TV series. The costumes, the magnificent sets, the unspoken romance between Carson and Mrs Hughes.. but it’s universally agreed that he best thing about the whole show is Dame Maggie Smith and her withering put-downs.
So the news that the upcoming third series of Downton will be her last is about as welcome as a disfigured chap claiming to be the estranged heir to the whole estate. Yet apparently the 77 year-old actress has asked Julian Fellowes to write her out so that she might “pursue other roles” on the big screen and stage.
“She is filming until August and then wants to leave, going out on a high. She thinks that three series is enough and she wants to get back to the stage and big screen,” a source told The Daily Mail.
“She is keen to pursue other roles so Julian is preparing to write her out. He [Fellowes] always has several endings so it won’t be too difficult for him, but losing Maggie will be a great loss.”
This news will raise questions over whether a potential fourth series will be as good the stuff which has come before, especially without the show’s star-turn (see below).
Meanwhile, Julian Fellowes has explained that he is still putting the finishing touches to plot detail for the third series, although executive producer Rebecca Eaton has revealed that a character who is “pretty key in the cast” will die.
Who exactly that will be remains a mystery but other cast members including Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, were said to be stalling on contracts last month.
Downton Abbey returns in late summer on ITV in the UK and PBS in the US.
*”These people never questioned their own philosophy or culture, unlike nowadays when everyone is continually questioning their identity” ..We talk to Julian Fellowes about his inspiration for the Dowager Countess*
Picture: Courtesy of Mark Traphagen