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Michelle Dockery doesn’t believe Downton Abbey could continue without Dame Maggie Smith.

Downton Abbey returns to ITV for its fourth season later this Autumn and there is already speculation over its future. In fact there’s always speculation over the future of the prestigious drama and how long it will continue for – the papers are full of stories on the subject.

Actress Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, has give her own thoughts on the future of Downton arguing that if more actors leave the series it may not be able to continue – especially if fan favourite Dame Maggie Smith were to leave.

The actress told VultureIf more people start leaving, that’s when it can’t go on… Like if Maggie Smith decided not to do any more, I think that really is the end. If more people start dropping off. I just don’t think it will work.”

Series three of Downton Abbey marked the departures of Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens. Jessica Brown Findlay bowed out midway through the season when her character of Lady Sybil died following childbirth while Dan Stevens made his exit in the Christmas Special as Matthew Crawley was involved in a car accident following the birth of his child.

The two actors were not the first to leave the series; Thomas Howes made his exit during the second season as his character of William died from war wounds. Actress Siobhan Finneran, who plays Miss O’Brien, will not be returning for the fourth season though her character has not been killed off leaving the door open for a possible future return.

ITV recently released a trailer for Downton’s fourth season.

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