TV Highlights

Maggie Smith not leaving Downton Abbey

Dame Maggie Smith has no plans to leave 'Downton Abbey'.

The 79-year-old actress - who plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley - is still enjoying her role as the Crawley family matriarch and will remain part of the period drama for the foreseeable future.

Executive producer Gareth Neame said: ''Maggie Smith will be in the show as long as she wants to do it. She'll be back this coming season. She's a huge part of the show, and I think she enjoys doing it.

''I think it's remarkable for someone who's had such a long and illustrious career to be still delivering work of this calibre. One has also really got to make reference to the remarkable combination of [writer-and-creator] Julian Fellowes and Maggie Smith. She's almost like a muse to him.''

The producer also teased the addition of Richard E. Grant to the show's cast in series five, playing Downton houseguest Simon Bricker.

He told The Hollywood Reporter: ''The show has always been big about the guests coming in, though we don't really do stunt casting. Although the bedrock of the show is this cast of hugely loved characters, it's how they interact with the guests that I think makes every season feel fresh. Richard [E. Grant] and Anna [Chancellor] are two very fun additions.''

26-02-2014

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07-07-2011