Don’t blame Maggie Smith for the end of “Downton Abbey.” Though the actress declared she would leave at the end of Season 6 even if the show didn’t end, none of the cast played a part in the decision to wrap up the British drama.
“‘Downton Abbey’ ended at Season 6 because the producers and writers wanted to close the show on a high,” a spokeswoman for Carnival Films, the production company behind the show, told the Daily Mail. “And that has been clearly demonstrated with the ‘Downton Abbey’ finale on ITV being the most-watched show on television across all broadcasters Christmas night. The show did not end because any of our cast wanted to leave.”
However, Maggie Smith has been a big part of “Downton Abbey” as Lady Violet. The Dowager Countess is a fan-favorite character, and many were upset when the actress said Season 6 would be her last. When the “Downton” creators revealed a few weeks later that Season 6 would be the final installment, many assumed that Smith’s departure was the reason for ending the show.
The denial came after The Sun reported producer Gareth Neame blamed the show’s ending on Smith. “We easily could have gone for a seventh season, but if I’d have said, ‘We haven’t got Maggie,’ it would have been a shadow of itself,” he said.
However, he also clarified they decided to end the show because it was the right time. “We have a final season that’s as strong as the first because we quit while we were ahead,” he added. “We had the ambition that we had a complete show.” With 6.6 million viewers tuning in for their last episode in the U.K., the BBC reported, it seems they ended while fans still wanted more.
Though the drama has finished airing in the U.K., there may still be more “Downton Abbey” stories without Smith. Producer Julian Fellowes has said he is working on a script for a movie about the Crawley family, but the Dowager Countess actress has said that she won’t be part of it. “I can’t. What age would she be?” Smith said on “The Graham Norton Show” (via the Telegraph).
“Downton Abbey” Season 6, the final season, premieres in the U.S. Jan. 3 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS.