13:24 06 March 2012
The future of Downton Abbey has been cast into doubt with the revelation that the shows star, Dame Maggie Smith, has yet to sign up for future seasons of the show.
The actress, who plays the formidable and witty matriarch, is said to have panicked bosses of the hit period drama by not signing a new contract.
Its been reported that Michelle Dockery and Hugh Bonneville, who play Lady Mary and Earl Grantham, have already signed new contracts guaranteeing their appearance in future seasons.
Elizabeth McGovern, who stars as Cora, Countess of Grantham, Joanne Froggatt, who plays housemaid Anna, and Brendan Coyle who plays valet John Bates, are also all believed to be returning.
But Dame Maggie, along with Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, have yet to sign up and according to the Mirror, bosses are concerned that they will quit the show.
A source told the paper:
"Downton Abbey has a history of major surprises, and the producers are not opposed to changing casting within the show to add to the drama.
"But its hard to imagine the series without Maggie Smith or Dan Stevens involved in some way.
"To write the Dowager Countess out of the series, or even kill off the character, would be Downtons boldest storyline yet."
A spokesman for Downton Abbeys production company, Carnival, said:
"We are currently filming series three of Downton Abbey in which all the cast have returned.
"ITV have not yet commissioned a fourth and fifth series which, if they happen, would be a long way off."
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