Veteran actress Dame Maggie Smith has quashed recent rumours that she is suffering with health problems.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that the 77-year-old British star - who plays tart-tongued Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, in hit TV drama Downton Abbey - was taken to a hospital on Friday after reportedly suffering severe chest pains.

According to the Sunday Mirror, Smith was taken to a specialist cardiac unit at the Wellington Hospital, London and reportedly underwent a series of tests before being discharged later that day.

A source told the tabloid: "It was extremely distressing for her but she did the right thing and made sure she got to hospital as soon as possible."


The Mirror also speculated that the reported health scare raised questions over whether the actress would return for a fourth series of the show.

"Maggie loves her work and her performances in Downton have helped make it a worldwide success.

"But she will have to think very carefully now about whether she stays in the show. Her health always comes first and I am sure she will take advice from the experts."

The source continued: "Maggie was in the best possible hands at the ­Wellington Hospital.

"It was ­obviously a worrying time for her but she ­underwent all the tests possible. She was only discharged when the cardiologist was completely satisfied she was OK."


However, a rep for Smith has since played down reports the actress suffered a health scare.

The actress's spokesperson told the Daily Mail: "She is fine and well and at home."

According to the Mail, the reports emerged after Smith visited her doctor for a routine medical procedure.

Meanwhile, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes says that another series of the period drama is likely.

The writer told (Potential spoilers in the following link, NZ readers) The Telegraph that he would be "surprised" if a fourth series wasn't commissioned.

"I would hope [there will be more] because of the response to this series, but you know [ITV] are always pretty close to their chest in terms of an actual commission," he said. "But I think I'd be surprised if there was not a fourth series."

Fellowes said he was pleased with the reception of the third series.

"I am pleased with this series. I thought it worked well. I think it is an interesting time, that funny time after the Great War when people didn't quite know how much everything had gone back to the way it was before or how much it had changed. They were sort of feeling their way towards the realisation at the end of the 20s that things had changed enormously. It is a funny sort of insecure period and it is not one that is much done.

"You have lots of stuff about the Edwardians and everyone sort of jumps forward to the 30s and the Nazis. So I was pleased we were allowed to be in that time.

"It seems to me that the actors have made a very good job of it and the audience response has been great and they kept watching," he said.

Fellowes also claimed that the show's second series was "more solid" than the first.

"For me I felt the second [series] was more solid than the first because we knew who they all were. And now we are really involved with them and that takes you forward another step.

"I am pleased with all of them really. It sounds rather smug, but I have been very happy with them," he said.

The screenwriter also dismissed reports that Smith was unwell.

"She's absolutely fine and going out for lunch," he said.

Earlier this year, Fellowes spoke about Smith's longevity in the show.

"Dame Maggie will be in this show for as long as she wants to be and I can tell you that even if she doesn't want to be, she won't die, she'll go to the seaside just in case she wants to come back."

He added: "With Maggie, you never know. Others sign on for the next series and they sign for this and they sign for that, but she doesn't. She stays her own person. But as far as I'm concerned I hope she stays with the show until Downton falls down."

Asked how long she'll remain in the show, Smith told USA TODAY in September: "Listen, I must be 110 by now. Granny is going to kick the bucket at some point."

The third season of Downton Abbey concluded in the UK on Sunday and drew a season-high audience for the costume drama, according to The Hollywood Reporter.


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- Rumour Has It