Maggie Smith returning for Downton Abbey's fourth series
'Downton Abbey' executive producer Gareth Neame has confirmed Dame Maggie Smith will return for the ITV period drama's fourth series
Dame Maggie Smith is to return for Downton Abbey's fourth series.
The 78-year-old star - who won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe award on Sunday night (13.01.13) for her portrayal of the Dowager Countess in the ITV period drama - will appear on the show's forthcoming season, according to executive producer Gareth Neame.
Gareth confirmed to TVLine that Maggie will be back for the 2013 run of episodes, which will come as a relief to fans of the series following speculation she may be set to quit the programme.
During the summer, 'Downton Abbey' creator Julian Fellowes admitted Maggie hadn't signed a contract for the fourth series.
When asked at the time if she was coming back to the show, he said: "I can't tell you, 'Oh, yes, she's definitely contracted [for season four] - because she isn't.
"It's entirely up to her when she stays and when she goes. With Maggie, you never know."
While Maggie looks set to return to the period drama, her co-stars Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens will not be back after their respective characters, Lady Sybil Crawley and Matthew Crawley, died in series three.
Sybil tragically passed away during childbirth, while Matthew died in a fatal car crash - and Dan admits it was a "very difficult" decision to quit the show.
He previously said: "From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things."