Credit: © Copyright ITV plc 2013

We’ve been worried for months now that the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) would go the way of Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley. That is to say, bid adieu to Downton Abbey for new projects further afield, an outcome made all the more likely considering Maggie just turned 79 last December.

Show creator Julian Fellowes seemed to know our deepest fears (how does he do that?!) and gave the Dowager a bad case of the flu during Season 4. She’s made of stronger stuff than fictional illness, however, and Violet recovered, ending the fourth season better than ever.

But will her health hold out come Season 5, which is currently filming in the UK? It would seem the prognosis is good based on what Downton executive producer Gareth Neame recently told The Hollywood Reporter.

Maggie Smith will be in the show as long as she wants to do it,” he said. “She’ll be back this coming season.”

We know it’s not much and of course, we’d feel even better if ITV confirmed Maggie’s signed a contract for another year but we’ll take what we can get. And it sounds like Dame Smith’s got a sure thing at Downton for as long as she wants with Gareth going so far as to call her Julian’s “muse.”

“She’s a huge part of the show, and I think she enjoys doing it,” the EP added. “I think it’s remarkable for someone who’s had such a long and illustrious career to be still delivering work of this caliber.”

And here’s to many more years to come!

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Elisabeth Kramer is an Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident Downton Abbey expert. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!