Maggie Smith, who stars as Dowager Countess of Grantham, recently told the London Times that she would depart the Emmy Award-winning period drama following its sixth season.
Smith said to the London Times, "They say this is the last [season], and I can't see how it could go on…I mean, I certainly can't keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We're into the late 1920s." A spokesperson for Milk Publicity, however, told The Associated Press that Smith previously agreed to stay with the series "for as long as the show runs."
TVLine reports that many of the actors' contracts end after season six.
Created by Academy Award winner Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park"), the series follows the Crawley family through the social and economic upheaval before, during and following World War I. The cast has included Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Brown Findlay, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Siobhan Finneran, Joanne Froggatt, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Christine Lohr, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Maggie Smith, Dan Stevens and Penelope Wilton.
"Downton Abbey" is a Carnival/Masterpiece co-production. Carnival is a division of NBCUniversal. The executive producers are Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes and Liz Trubridge.