“Downton Abbey” without the Dowager Countess of Grantham?
That’s the situation facing the revered PBS series as reports circulate that Dame Maggie Smith, who plays the Countess, has informed the show’s creator and executive producer, Julian Fellowes, that she would like the show’s upcoming third season to be her last.
The story was first reported in the British paper, The Daily Mail, here — and then circulated Sunday in the U.S.
According to the Mail, Smith, 77, isn’t leaving because of any dissatisfaction with the show or Fellowes, with whom she is said to have a close friendship. Instead, she’s eager to accept other roles coming her way in movies and the theater.
The Mail story quotes an unnamed source as saying Fellowes is already writing a scenario for Smith’s beloved character to make her exit. The options include the possible death from illness of the Countess character, whose name is Victoria Crawley.
The acid-tongued Countess, who holds the position of matriarch over the extended “Downton Abbey” family and its service staffers, is one of the most popular characters on the show.
She will be missed.