Patricia Hodge will appear in the final ever episode of Downton Abbey.
Most recently seen on screens as Penny in comedy series Miranda, Hodge will help the much-loved ITV period drama bid farewell when it concludes with a final Christmas special on 25th December.
The news was announced at a press event today, where – after journalists got a sneak peek at the first episode – writer and creator Julian Fellowes admitted to feeling emotional ahead of the upcoming finale.
“The characters have been so real to me for six years. So I do think you have a little sadness,” Fellowes said. “You do feel rather sorry to say goodbye to these people because I’ve enjoyed the creation. I’m sorry to see them go. I’m very unlikely to be involved in anything that is as successful again and so, of course, I say goodbye to these golden years with a slight pang. But it seems the right time to go while we’re still firing.”
Executive producer Gareth Neame added that he felt fans around the world would be “satisfied” with the ending.
Meanwhile, Dame Maggie Smith (who has played the Dowager Countess for six series) joked of her surprise at making it to the show’s final curtain:
“I’m just surprised that I got to the end because just before this I’d done about 10 years with Harry Potter. So I felt very old indeed by the time I got to the Dowager. I’m honestly just surprised that I got through it and I’m still here.”
Asked what she would be doing next, she replied: “I’m going to be lying down. I believe for quite a some time. The other thing I will be doing is watching it. I will get the box set and have a good look.”
Us too, Maggie, although we’re also holding out for that Downton Abbey film…