Dame Maggie Smith: 'I'm just surprised I got to the end of Downton'

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She was previously rumoured to be leaving the show but Dame Maggie Smith vowed that she would stay on Downton Abbey for as long as the series lasted. Now that the period drama is drawing to a close, the 80-year-old has admitted that she is surprised she "got to the end".

Maggie, who plays Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, was speaking at a press conference in London on Thursday, where she was joined by fellow co-stars Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville and Joanne Froggatt among others.

"I'm just surprised that I got to the end because just before this I'd done about ten years with Harry Potter so I felt very old indeed by the time I got to the Dowager," said the veteran actress before joking, "I'm honestly just surprised that I got through it and I'm still here."

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Dame Maggie Smith, 80, admitted she felt "very old" by the time she got to the Dowager

When asked what she would be doing next, Maggie added: "I'm going to be lying down. I believe for quite some time. The other thing I will be doing is watching it. I will get the box set and have a good look. I certainly haven't watched anything that I've done. I have seen some of it. But I want to sit down and look at it all."

For the past week the cast have been filming their last scenes and on Wednesday night show bosses declared it a wrap.

"Last night at 7pm we wrapped all of the servants," said executive producer Gareth Neame. "They shot their last scene. It's an incredibly emotional, moving scene in the very last episode. I can tell you that quite a few tears were shed by grown men in the form of butlers and footmen that I never expected to see.

"I think the final season is very strong and I believe the fans of the show around the world will be happy and satisfied with what happens to our characters."

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Michelle Dockery and other cast members attended the special BAFTA tribute ceremony on Tuesday night

Writer and creator Julian Fellowes added: "The characters have been so real to me for six years so I do think you have a little sadness. You do feel rather sorry to say goodbye to these people because I've enjoyed the creation. I'm sorry to see them go.

"I'm very unlikely to be involved in anything that is as successful again and so, of course, I say goodbye to these golden years with a slight pang. But it seems the right time to go while we're still firing."

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Laura Carmichael revealed she will feature in the very final scene of Downton

On Tuesday night Downton cast members past and present attended a BAFTA tribute ceremony, where the popular ITV show was recognised with a special award for its contribution to TV both in the UK and around the world.

Laura Carmichael revealed that the camera closes on her in the very final scene, while at Thursday's press conference it was also announced that Miranda star Patricia Hodge would feature in the last episode, due to be aired on Christmas Day.