The Dowager Countess looks set to get a central storyline in the fifth series of Downton Abbey, according to executive producer Gareth Neame.
Neame said the Downton matriarch will have a “brilliant” storyline, adding: “It’s Downton at its best, this storyline. It’s fantastic.”
Violet Crawley, played by Dame Maggie Smith, has previously played a more comedic supporting role in the drama thanks to her acerbic one-liners.
But the producer could not reveal any more details about the planned plotline when asked in an interview with TV Line.
When asked if the storyline will feature new characters, he said: “I can’t answer that specifically, but every episode, we’ll be having some guest; people come in and out. The show is always a melting pot of the regular characters in addition to guests.”
Neame also hinted about other story developments in the forthcoming series of the hit ITV drama, including whether Carson and Mrs Hughes will finally get together.
"Downton is about romantic love and companionship, and in that sense, they are one of the Downton relationships, even if they’re not married. Obviously that was a lovely tease at the end of last season, so we’ll see what happens to them," he said.
Bates and Anna will continue to deal with the aftermath of her rape in series four, while Mary Crawley is still unsure about which suitor to go for.
Downton Abbey returns to ITV this autumn with a later broadcast on PBS on 4 January in the US.