Downton Abbey Exclusive: It's Finally Official — Maggie Smith Returning for Season 4!

Get More: Casting News, Exclusive

Maggie Smith Downton Abbey Season 4The Dowager Countess is staying put.

Downton Abbey exec producer Gareth Neame confirmed to TVLine Sunday at HBO’s post-Golden Globes bash that Maggie Smith will indeed be returning for the drama’s upcoming fourth season.

Over the summer, Abbey creator Julian Fellowes admitted that even he didn’t know if the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress would be back. “I can’t tell you, ‘Oh, yes, she’s definitely contracted [for Season 4] — because she isn’t,” he said. “It’s entirely up to her when she stays and when she goes.

RELATED | Downton Abbey Star Breaks Silence on Exit: ‘It Was a Very Difficult Decision’

“With Maggie, you never know,” he added. “Other [actors] sign on for the next series and they sign for this and they sign for that, but she doesn’t. She stays her own person. But as far as I’m concerned, I hope she stays with the show until Downton falls down.”

[WARNING: MAJOR SPOILER ABOUT SEASON 3 APPROACHING... ]

Smith’s decision to stick around ensures that all of the show’s major castmembers are on board for Season 4, with the exception of Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens, whose respective characters, Sybil and Matthew, are killed off in Season 3.



Comments (77)

  • Sybil with ONE L dear.

    Comment by LP – January 14, 2013 02:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think we knew about Dan Stevens from fans in England months ago. Dan said he had to
      “exploore other options”. What nonsense..He screwed millions of fans who will remember
      this for a long time.

      Comment by selma – January 14, 2013 08:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Exactly! I for one will not watch him in anything else! He is ridiculous! He’s only done 25 episodes! If he had been on there for 6 or more seasons I would understand. I feel that maybe they should have also just re cast. They were too quick to kill Mathew off.

        Comment by Shuayb – January 15, 2013 06:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Shuayb – I totally agree with you. It’s almost too melodramatic to have Matthew and Sybil die in the same season and both leaving babies minus one parent each. Recasting would have made more sense, still more story lines to go…..

          Comment by Linda Berky – February 17, 2013 04:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • I still think another actor to play Matthew would have been the answer.
            Keep him in the background until the LAST episode, then bring him in. Fans would more easily have accepted a replacement rather than totally obliterating him.

            I can see Matthew with severe head trauma, amnesia, and after several months in hospital, he walks out unnoticed and is swallowed up in obsurity.
            Everyone launches a search for him. Lots of mystery and twists and turns here.

            An audience is more appreciative with suspense and will kleep coming back for more to find out what happens next…..WHO SHOT J.R….. rememeber that?

            Comment by Ruth – March 3, 2013 01:07 PM PDT  
      • seriously…..grow tf up.

        Comment by ingomardrive – January 16, 2013 03:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I agree.

        Comment by Ruth – March 3, 2013 12:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • NO< NO< NO< You can't kill off Matthew or Sybil! Crying here! JB

      Comment by Judy – January 15, 2013 11:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Should of put more of a warning about spoiler alert..totally ruined and spoiled my season readint this article. Pissed off!

      Comment by Poppymac – January 17, 2013 08:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • The title of the article says “Season 4″ – if you didn’t want to know about season 4, you shouldn’t have read it.

        Comment by Alphaba – February 11, 2013 01:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I saw at least two alerts that said STOP HERE or words to that effect.

        Comment by Judy Anderson Hamby – February 18, 2013 11:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • SHAME ON YOU for not using “SPOILER” in your article!
      Those of us in the States have not yet seen all of Season 3 to know of certain deaths.

      Comment by ML Ennis – January 17, 2013 09:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • i could not wait for each weeks episode esp already knowing about two persons deaths/removal from the show… I watched the remaining 5 episodes last night until 3 am…. and I am glad I did… why should we wait to watch what they have already told everyone about!! use a search engine and find it free and watch it now…. or wait your choice

        Comment by CS – January 21, 2013 09:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The man is an idiot, this was his greatest success to date and he walked away from it. I wish him nothing well.

      Comment by Dane Arreola – August 6, 2013 02:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Great news. But as long as Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt are there I’ll be happy!

    Comment by Karin – January 14, 2013 02:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • really? their storyline is the weak link of the show in my opinion

      Comment by JJ – January 14, 2013 03:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Agreed. I’m so bored with both characters, but to each his/her own, I guess.

        Comment by Jimmy – January 14, 2013 03:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yeah!

      Comment by Bonnie Colvert – January 14, 2013 07:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Awful ! She wastes her talent in this series !

    Comment by Mark – January 14, 2013 03:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Far from ‘wasting her talent’ in the series, her talent is on full display. That’s why she is winning Emmy’s and Golden Globes for the role and I’m sure it is no small part of the reason why the show is so successful. I, for one, will tune in every week as long as Dame Maggie is on.

      Comment by ben – January 14, 2013 05:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Why, oh why didn’t you post a spoiler alert on that final sentence! I knew Matthew was leaving, but I didn’t know how, and I had no idea about Sybil. Curses!!!!

    Comment by melinky – January 14, 2013 03:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Thank you! I am really upset that I know this just when the season started.

      Comment by tmcnett – January 14, 2013 06:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Spoiler indeed. In America we had just begun series 3 and now I know that Mathew and Sybil will be leaving unpleasantly. Actually I think Mathew’s character is a bit of a sop so I won’t miss him. Ride on, Lady Mary and stop sniveling, Sybil

        Comment by Jocelyn Shannon – January 16, 2013 07:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Okay, I see the spoiler alert, but the telling words are hyper-linked almost directly underneath.

    Comment by melinky – January 14, 2013 03:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The spoiler warning is in bold, in capitals and separated from the rest of the text by big brackets, furthermore you are reading an article about season 4 and you’re on a spoiler website.

      Comment by Shannon – January 15, 2013 03:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • some of us just follow a shared link from facebook ..didnt know it was a spoiler site. And again..if this many people feel that the spoiler alert wasnt easily seen and easy to overlook..it was obviously not done right. They should do a better job making sure Spoiler alert is gonna be seen.

        Comment by poppy333 – January 17, 2013 09:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • She’s a fabulous Countess Dowager. I can’t wait to see what unfolds in season 4!

    Comment by leola – January 14, 2013 03:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Perhaps a better way of hiding a major spoiler could have been done? Maybe black words on a black background sort of thing, where one could read it — if they chose to — by highlighting the area?

    Like others have said, I knew Matthew was leaving but had no idea Sybil was as well, nor that they were killed off. Thanks for that.

    Comment by CMart – January 14, 2013 03:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • It’s been broadcast in the UK already, so unless you avoid all forms of modern media and stay at home with your head under a pillow I don’t see how you can avoid seeing spoilers somewhere.

      Comment by Englishwoman – January 15, 2013 03:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I’d managed to avoid reading just WHY Matthew’s character wasn’t returning, til now. It is possible to filter for yourself, sans rock.

        Comment by Name(less) – January 15, 2013 11:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • this was news to me..I have friends who watch in UK and are careful not to say anything on facebook that would ruin show for us here in America. I just happened to see title that Maggie Smith was staying, and I thought I would read it. I wasnt looking for spoilers..just was excited to see show is continuing. My head isnt under a pillow and I watch all kinds of modern media. The author did put a spoiler warning, but it really wasnt that defineable, could of done a much better job. Dont need to be so snarky ..obviously with this many people upset that they didnt see the spoiler alert..it is obvious it wasnt done well enough to make sure it was seen.

        Comment by poppy333 – January 17, 2013 09:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I wasn’t being snarky, just pointing out that it’s not easy avoiding details of something which has already been broadcast. Anyway it’s a brilliant series and well worth watching. Not everything has been revealed in this article I can assure you.

          By the way it should be “could have done” not “could of”.

          Comment by Englishwoman – January 17, 2013 12:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Thank you for pointing out this growing grammatical problem. It annoys me, too.

            Comment by suomi14 – January 31, 2013 01:07 PM PDT  
  • Yay!!!! Thank You Thank you!

    Comment by Lorena – January 14, 2013 03:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • SPOILER ALERT: SPOILER IN COMMENT

    OMGGGGGGG Sybil DIES!!!! I CANNOT believe it! I LOVE HER!!!! EUGH I AM DEVASTATED and those Spoiler Alerts where terribly placed!!!! At least space it out, so people can’t see the spoiler right below it….

    Comment by Sandris – January 14, 2013 04:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • WOW. I am done with your web site. Thanks for ruining the season for me. Jerk.

    Comment by Julie – January 14, 2013 05:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You’ll be back tomorrow.

      Comment by Teag – January 14, 2013 05:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Hee hee hee. yeah…

        Comment by TV Gord – January 14, 2013 06:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I know this is a tv website but does that mean that in each news item the author will ruin an entire season for US watchers by revealing items that are NOT vital to the article. There is no need to put that in every single one.
    No one can seriously defend this practice. It sucks that my season has been ruined because you decide to keep on putting all this info out there. Not cool dude. NOT cool.

    Comment by rosa – January 14, 2013 05:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • It is easy. Do not read it, and you wont complain later. I cant stand people who doesnt accept the consequences of their acts.

      Comment by jm – January 15, 2013 04:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • You’re right. I’ll stop coming to the site. Thanks for the wise advice.

        Comment by susela – January 15, 2013 10:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have seen series 3 and Matthew is still there to the last episode so I am not sure when he dies???? must be at the start of series 4
    Sybil dies early in the series and is sad. was a real shock.

    Comment by Alyson – January 14, 2013 06:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Alyson, the real season finale is the Christmas special

      Comment by Danielle – January 14, 2013 06:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • good try… some of us in the states have found a way to watch the rest of season 3, if I had known how easy it was I would have watched the entire season in one day rather than waiting for it each week thru week 3 when I finally figured it out and watch the rest of the entire season in one night… Did you really watch the entire season??

      Comment by CS – January 21, 2013 09:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I would really miss her if she left. I perk up every time she shows up on screen! :-)

    Comment by TV Gord – January 14, 2013 06:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Why in God’s name would you spoil the deaths of those characters? That’s just so crappy. Shame on you, Michael. Totally unnecessary.

    Comment by Jim – January 14, 2013 10:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • He did put a warning that a spoiler would be ahead and do realize that there are people who have already watched the current season this past fall. Some of this is hardly news; the news about Dan Stevens not returning has been on the internet since November and if you knew what happened in season (or series) 3, you would know that Sybil was killed off. Do realize that fans can find this information quite easily, if they want to find it, whether they live in the UK or not.

      Comment by jaynesbooks – January 15, 2013 12:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How Lame am I. I knew that Sybil dies but didn’t know exactly what happens to Mathew so I ignored the warning and now I just spoiled it for me! Lordey!
    As a guy, I cried so much when she dies, worst story line ever!!! They should have killed Edith. I don’t like her much.
    So glad Maggie Smith is staying! She is so good! I only plan to watch season 4 for her and Mary. They are the soul of this show.

    Comment by Shuayb – January 15, 2013 05:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Does anyone know when Season 4 will return to US?

      Comment by Mother Mary – March 2, 2013 07:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought it was Downtown Abbey not Downton Abbey?

    Comment by cas – January 15, 2013 10:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I must be wrong because they use Downton all throughout the story…

      Comment by cas – January 15, 2013 10:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • that’s right…and petula clark is singing the new theme song

      Comment by ingomardrive – January 16, 2013 03:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Thanks so much for that last sentence, you Aus-hole! You couldn’t have put the word “spoiler” in there for those of us who—up until two minutes ago—have managed to avoid them? Shame on you!

    Comment by susela – January 15, 2013 10:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Okay, went back and found the spoiler alert. Michael, you put it in as a headline, the kind which usually announces some other relevant article you can click over to. So my eye went right past it to continue reading this article. Your readers would be better served if alerts were printed IN THE SAME PARAGRAPH, just before the offending info. That way the eye can’t miss it. Thank you for reviewing how you handle this in future.

      Comment by susela – January 15, 2013 10:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Thanks for ruining the season for me.

    Comment by SteamedDowntonFan – January 15, 2013 06:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m thankful Maggie Smith is coming back for another season – I’m hoping they have more episodes with her and Shirley McClaine………best line so far of season 3 – Maggie Smith looking at Hugh Bonneville and asking “Can I possibly get a drink? Oh I’m sorry…I thought you were a waiter!” LOL

    Comment by BuckeyeNV – January 15, 2013 10:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • THANKS for SPOILING Season 3 for the rest of us. I should not have read this blurb.

    Comment by Nurie – January 16, 2013 12:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Actors playing Sybil and Mathew chose to leave the show.. Very bad decision.. They will live to regret it..one already does..

    Comment by Spoiled – January 16, 2013 05:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Exactly how can you use the name “Spoiled”, thereby identifying yourself as a victim of a Spoiler, when you post Spoilers in your own comments? Hypocrite!

      Comment by stargateparty – January 18, 2013 04:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Michael Ausiello – Have you EVER heard of typing “SPOILER ALERT” at the top of the article?!?!!?!??!?!?!?!?!? Here I am thinking I am reading an article about the glorious Maggie Smith staying on the show, and then come to find out how Season 3 is going to end with killing off major characters and their names!!!

    Comment by ThanksForSpoilingTheShow – January 16, 2013 06:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • [WARNING: MAJOR SPOILER ABOUT SEASON 3 APPROACHING... ] This sentance was written above the paragraph about the departure of the two characters.

      Comment by Barbara J. – January 16, 2013 04:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • yeah but I only saw that when I went back and looked..could of done a better job making sure it was visable.

        Comment by poppy333 – January 17, 2013 08:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • “yeah but I only saw that when I went back and looked..could of done a better job making sure it was visable.”

          Is that sarcasm? I hope to god for the sake of humanity that that was sarcasm. the words WARNING: MAJOR SPOILER in large easy to read caps directly after a paragraph but before the next one was somehow inconspicuous? Or did you not think that the aforementioned spoilers were actually there and the author just typed them to pad out the word count of his article? Was it the placement of the warning? Would somewhere OTHER than just prior to said spoiler have been less confusing to you? Or was it simply too succinct for you to understand? Should it have said in even BIGGER letters “WARNING: IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH THERE ARE SPOILERS REGARDING SEASON THREE OF DOWNTON ABBEY THAT YOU MIGHT NOT WISH TO SEE IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE SEASON IN ITS ENTIRETY SO IF YOU DONT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE EVENTS OF SEASON THREE YOU SHOULD PROBABLY JUST QUIT READING. LIKE, RIGHT NOW. O.K., YOURE STILL READING, DONT SAY I DIDNT TRY TO WARN YOU. BECAUSE IF YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS AFTER READING THIS WARNING ITS YOUR OWN FAULT. DONT SAY I DIDNT WARN YOU. O.K., YOU’RE STILL READING SO THAT TELLS ME THAT EITHER YOU DO IN FACT WANT TO SEE SAID SPOILERS OR YOU ARE SIMPLY TOO STUPID TO LIVE IN WHICH CASE YOU MAY WANT TO CONSIDER PLACING YOUR HEAD IN A BUCKET OF WATER. YOUVE BEEN WARNED.

          P.S., SERIOUSLY THOUGH, THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO AVOID THE SPOILERS I’M ABOUT TO TELL EVERYONE ELSE ABOUT.”? Would that have been more clear?

          its people like you that are the reason that everywhere ive lived in the US the roads have yellow triangle “no passing zone” signs, but outside the town i live in now the sign is big and white and says “do not pass when the solid line is on your side”

          /rant /sarcasm /sobriety

          Comment by TJ – January 23, 2013 12:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • really???? yellow triangles??? you could have warned us you were going to write about those triangles. now you’ve ruined this whole page for us.

            Comment by ingomardrive – January 23, 2013 01:42 PM PDT  
  • Can I just say THANK YOU for posting this Spoiler Tag and Spoilers in this article! The fact that people get so butt-hurt over the mere existence of spoilers and then continue on to litter the comments section of the posting with the most asinine responses known to man has given me right now, and will continue to give me, much amusement.

    Comment by Immune2Spoilers – January 18, 2013 04:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • right on, dude

      Comment by ingomardrive – January 18, 2013 04:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I would seriously watch this show if it was just the dowager countess making snarky remarks for an hour. Maggie Smith is the very best part of the show.

    Also I love that Anna and Bates are still interesting to watch while happy, most happy tv couples are boring!

    Comment by addlady – January 26, 2013 08:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved this show but now that they’ve killed off two main characters in 3 or 4 episodes I’m done watching. Life’s too short to watch a tragedy every week.

    Comment by Peter w – February 6, 2013 07:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Stop reading blogs people if you’re so upset about be spoiled.

    Comment by E. – February 8, 2013 05:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Can I just say that us in the UK watch it here first.
    We get all our American shows second hand and have to wait months for the next season – and we always have the good plots etc ruined for us.
    So stop moaning and it clearly states SEASON 4 SPOILER ALERT! For goodness sake

    Comment by Kay – February 11, 2013 02:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • OMG, I am glad I did not know about the spoilers until watching the last episode of Season 3 – of course my hubby already had a sense that Matthew was going to die – oh how I hate how this ended. Why oh why?????

    Comment by susi – February 16, 2013 12:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The drama of the whole show is fascinating, but please give the viewers time to enjoy the happiness, and not skip around the family so much. Two dying, too much. Carson is fabulous, Bates and Anna are fabulous, Mrs P, the head of house, all are interesting good stories, we wish to continue seeing. Keep it grand and love the dowagers insights, she is always right on, even in her own way. I screamed at the accident. Not right. He was cut too short, and if he wanted out, he made a big mistake leaving the love of his wife and newborn. Not right.

    Comment by Linda – February 17, 2013 07:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Only a great show would have these spoiler arguments! While it is wonderful that we are united in our appreciation of this show, wish we didn’t have such a delay in the US…It’s tough not to want to read about it, and even when our friends in the UK try to warn us, it’s just bound to happen that we’ll be “spoiled.” Still love to watch it though!

    Comment by Kate – February 17, 2013 08:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I had a sudden idea — the type that’ll never see the light of day. What if the snarky little nursemaid “Edna” wasn’t really a servant at all, but one of those Fleet Street muckraking reporters at Downton “undercover” for an expose article? If so, what would you think Downton’s reaction would be if the truth came out? Branson would probably be hurt and angry, all the staff would be trying to remember what “Edna” might’ve heard them saying, etc.

    Comment by Redcatlady – February 26, 2013 10:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have been reading the comments and venomous remarks towards the actors who played Matthew and has left the show. Really? You have that kind of harshness and anger towards a person who has accomplished something in their career and wants to move forward…progress in his chosen profession. Let me ask you this… If you walked into your JOB tomorrow and someone offered you a chance to increase your salary and expand your job title , would you say ,”no- gee, I think I’ll stay where I am because it might make some stranger unhappy? ” Be honest. Of course not. You would run not walk towards that opportunity. For you this is an hour or 2 of weekend eascapism but for this actor -it is his career. His livelihood. Rise above yourself and look at the big picture. I mean do you need to be reminded we are talking about fictional televsion. I was slammed with the developments in season 3 …but that is what makes good – let’s hash it over-drama . Happily ever after is not dramatic and if you’re honest you would admit happily ever after would make for a boring show… and then you wouldn’t have anything to blog about. Be sad for the storyline but let the man reap his success without your baggage.

    Comment by American Rose – February 28, 2013 12:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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