Dame Maggie Smith to leave Downton Abbey

Dame Maggie Smith says the next series of Downton Abbey will be her last.

The actress, who plays Violet Crawley on ITV’s period drama, joked that her character is too old to continue on the show.

“They say this is the last one, and I can’t see how it could go on,” Smith has told the Sunday Times.

“I mean, I certainly can’t keep going,” she continues. “To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We’re into the late 1920s.”

Smith, who has won two Emmys and a Golden Globe for her role, also says the global success of Downton Abbey has made her life difficult with all the public attention.

“One isn’t safe after doing Downton. 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.”

A particular problem seems to be the persistent request for selfies.

“What’s awful is it used to be just autographs, but now everyone wants photographs,” said Maggie.

“You begin to feel like all those people who believed photographs took the soul away. There’s nothing like privacy, but nobody will have that soon. Nobody’s private any more.”

Downton Abbey recently won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series at the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Smith can be seen in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, opposite Judi Dench, Richard Gere and Bill Nighy.