(CNN) — She’s leaving. She’s not leaving.
Dame Maggie Smith, whose tart-tongued Lady Violet Crawley has most of the best lines on “Downton Abbey,” caused a fuss this week when she implied that her beloved character won’t be around much longer.
“I mean, (my character) certainly can’t keep going,” Smith told the Sunday Times. “To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We’re into the late 1920s.”
No more Dowager Countess?!? You could almost hear the genteel wails of protest on both sides of the Atlantic.
The speculation about Smith was hurriedly squashed by a “Downton” publicist, who said Smith, 80, has agreed to stay with the series “for as long as the show runs.”
But that didn’t stop rumors about the demise of “Downton” itself from continuing to crop up.
Smith even hinted during her interview with the Times that the next season of the hit show would be its last.
“They say this is the last one, and I can’t see how it could go on,” Smith let drop.
Creator Julian Fellowes is developing another period drama, “The Gilded Age,” for NBC and has been noncommittal about how much longer the show might endure beyond season six, which is filming now.
“It won’t go on forever — I’m not a believer in that,” he told The New York Times in a recent interview. “But I can’t immediately now tell you where the end will be.”
It is hard to imagine “Downton,” which just wrapped its fifth season on PBS in the United States, without the wit and wisdom of Lady Violet, whose acerbic commentary leaves few around her unscathed.
So let’s hope Smith just misspoke. And until season six, which airs this fall in the UK and early next year in the United States, here are some of our favorite Dowager Countess zingers.
— Isobel: “How you hate to be wrong.” Lady Violet: “I wouldn’t know, I’m not familiar with the sensation.”
— Robert: “They do say there’s a wild man inside all of us.” Lady Violet: “If only he would stay inside.”
— Isobel: “I admire it when young people stand up for their principles.” Lady Violet: “Principles are like prayers; noble, of course, but awkward at a party.”
— Lady Violet (to Cora): “I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.” Matthew: “But isn’t she American?” Lady Violet: “Exactly.”
— Isobel: “I take that as a compliment.” Lady Violet: “I must have said it wrong.”