Dame Maggie Smith vows to stay on Downton Abbey as long as show lasts

Fans were left concerned after rumours that Dame Maggie Smith was to leave Downton Abbey, but the 80-year-old actress, who plays Violet Crawley in the hugely popular British television series, has made it clear that she'll stay for as long as the show lasts.

A representative told The Wrap: "Maggie has always been on the record as saying she'll be with the show for as long as the show runs."

Maggie got everyone talking when she hinted that she would leave Downton after the show's sixth series. The actress, who has played a leading role in the period drama since it began in 2010, said she "can't keep going" on the ITV1 show.

"They say this is the last one, and I can't see how it could go on," she told The Sunday Times. "I certainly can't keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We're into the late 1920s."

She continued, saying that she finds the filming schedule exhausting, adding: "Television really does you in."

Known for her frosty put-downs, Maggie's character Violet, also known as Dowager Countess of Grantham, has been a part of the show since it began in 2010.

Despite being happy about Downton Abbey's success, she admitted that there have been downsides to working on the show, including the level of fame it has brought her.

"One isn't safe after doing Downton," she said. "What's sad is I've gone through my whole life without any of that. I could go round galleries and things on my own and I just can't do it now. If someone decides to get at you, you can't get away."

It is not known whether the sixth series of the drama will be the last – with the show’s creator Julian Fellowes set to start work on a new US period drama The Gilded Age it is thought he won't have time for two such big projects.