Maggie Smith is ready to leave Downton Abbey. The veteran actress has played the Dowager Countess on ITV’s hit series for five seasons, now, and the show is already in production, once again. Regardless, Smith recently spoke out to say that the upcoming sixth season will be the Dowager Countess’ last.
Smith was recently talking to the Sunday Times about upcoming projects, including Downton Abbey and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel when she explained why she won’t be back after the upcoming season. Here’s what she had to say:
“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.”
While Smith has mentioned potentially quitting the period drama in the past, the above quote certainly makes it clear that Season 6 will be her last season; we’ll just need to wait to find out how the show decides to write her off. Maggie Smith is about to join the likes of Jessica Brown Findlay, Siobhan Finneran, Dan Stevens and many more and take her last bow on the show. It is worth noting, however, that Violet Crawley is hardly 110 on the series. The show has stated that she was born in 1842. The show is now in the 1920s. So while the Dowager Countess is older, she’s much closer to Maggie Smith’s actual age than 110. (Smith is 80 in real life.)
The real question, then, is whether or not Downton Abbey will continue to move forward after its sixth season. The show has already encompassed twelve years during its run, and has seen numerous cast members leave the series. The rumor mill has stated that Season 6 might be the drama’s last season as a whole. After all, plenty of leads have already dropped out of the series, and plenty of other plotlines, including Bates and Anna’s dealings with the police, Carson and Mrs. Hughes’ romance, and Mary’s slew of potential suitors have been explored quite in depth at this point. It might soon be time to say goodbye to Downton Abbey, not just Maggie Smith.
Luckily for fans, Downton Abbey is still a pretty big hit in the UK and on PBS, where it airs in the US, and no one related to the series—specifically not showrunner Julian Fellowes—has been willing to say Season 6 will be the show’s last. Regardless, the show was down a bit in the ratings during Season 5 compared to the heights the show achieved during Seasons 3 and 4, and Season 6 might prove to be a natural ending to the series.
If Downton Abbey does end, it won’t be the worst final bow a show has ever been given. We do know for certain that Season 6 is happening, and that should give the writers, cast and network plenty of time to wrap the show up in a fitting manner, without any cliffhangers. Still even if Downton Abbey does continue to move forward beyond next season, one thing is for certain: we’ll have to say our goodbyes to Smith.
It’ll still be a while before Downton Abbey’s sixth season airs. Fans in the UK should expect the series later this year, while fans who watch on PBS will likely get the next set of episodes in 2016.