With Downton Abbey currently in production on series 3, the Daily Mail headline reads “Drama at Downton Abbey as Dame Maggie Smith looks set to quit the show“. The text reads like a soap opera as it is being ‘reported’ that the Dowager Countess has ‘panicked the bosses’ by not signing a new contract. It’s as if the next headline has already been written…”Downton Abbey axed as the Dowager Countess departs”.
Julian Fellowes, creator/writer of the series, has forever alluded that he had three series in his head from the beginning, never envisioning a fourth series or more. Interestingly, I’m not sure anyone on the planet thought it would be the runaway hit that it has become for not only ITV in the UK, but for PBS in the States and for other parts of the world where broadcast. It’s funny what a little success will do to change ones mind and get them thinking of a possible series 4 and, potentially, a 5th series.
The ‘panic’ seems to be fueled by the thought that Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), Hugh Bonneville (Earl Grantham), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora), Joanne Froggatt (Anna) and Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates) have already signed up for the long haul should the series last beyond the upcoming third series. As reported in the Daily Mail, the Mirror is reporting that both Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley) and Dame Maggie Smith (Dowager Countess) have yet to commit to anything beyond the upcoming season “and may be ready to quit the show”.
As ITV has not yet even commissioned a fourth and fifth series, it seems just a bit premature to say both characters are jumping ship but, that’s what sells papers, I guess.