14:00 17 April 2012
Downton Abbey producers have denied that Dame Maggie Smith is being written out of the show.
It had been reported that the legendary actress had asked Downton creator, Julian Fellowes to make the third series her last.
A source told the Daily Mail:
"She is filming until August and then wants to leave, going out on a high. She thinks that three series is enough and she wants to get back to the stage and big screen."
The actress plays the Dowager Countess on the show, arguably the shows most popular character thanks to her her witty one-liners and dry delivery.
The source added:
"She is keen to pursue other roles so Julian is preparing to write her out. He [Fellowes] always has several endings so it won't be too difficult for him, but losing Maggie will be a great loss.
Executive producer Rebecca Eaton first sparked rumours of the Countesss death after revealing that a character "who is pretty key in the cast" will die in the upcoming series.
However, a spokesman for the show has said:
Series three is currently filming with Maggie along with the other cast. We do not comment on future storylines. However, there is no truth in the story that Maggie is leaving the show.
Downton Abbey returns to ITV1 in the summer.
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