April 17, 2012 at 12:19 PM ET
A recent report indicated that "Downton Abbey" would lose its quip-whipping character, the Dowager Countess, by the end of next season. But now shocked and disappointed fans can put away the smelling salts. As it turns out, the fan-favorite matriarch isn't leaving the drama any time soon.
The original news, based on a story published by Britain's Daily Mail, followed weeks of speculation about whether or not the woman behind "Downton's" Dowager, Maggie Smith, would sign a contract to continue on beyond the show's third season. While there's still no confirmation of a contract renewal, a representative for Carnival Film and Television Limited, co-producers of the "Masterpiece" hit, has since shot down the earlier report.
"Series three is currently filming with Maggie along with the other cast," the rep told the Los Angeles Times. "We do not comment on future story lines; however there is no truth in the story that Maggie is leaving the show."
Still, even if the Dowager Countess is safe, someone else won't be.
“Somebody will be born, and somebody will die," executive producer Rebecca Eaton recently revealed about the upcoming season. "Somebody pretty key in the cast, unfortunately, is not going to make it."
It could be some time before fans learn the identity of that character. The third season of "Downton Abbey" is set to kick off in January 2013 on PBS.
Are you relieved to learn that "Downton's" Dowager is safe, or do you think producers are just trying to keep fans guessing with their latest remarks? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.