'Downton Abbey’ fans who are distraught about the imminent end of their beloved period drama may be cheered by a suggestion that one of its characters could star in a prequel series. Violet, The Countess of Grantham, played by Dame Maggie Smith in existing series, may be returning in the new American series ‘The Gilded Age’.

Julian Fellowes, the creator and of the smash ITV series and the writer of the forthcoming American project for the NBC network, told the Mail on Sunday that ‘The Gilded Age’ would be set among the high society families of New York in the late nineteenth century. This would mean that, if she were to return, the quick-witted and acerbic Violet would be played by a younger actress in events depicted many decades before those of ‘Downton Abbey’.

Downton Abbey
The Countess of Grantham, played by Dame Maggie Smith (above) in 'Downton Abbey'

Fellowes also indicated that there may be small roles for Violet’s son Robert, the Earl of Grantham, and his wife Cora, who is American-born. He said “Robert Grantham would be in his early teens, Cora would be a child. A young Violet could make an appearance.”

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However, details have not been finalised yet, with Fellowes remaining tight-lipped on many other issues. Sources at NBC, meanwhile, are hoping that ‘The Gilded Age’ will be a home-grown version of ‘Downton Abbey’, with work going ahead quickly.

Robert Greenblatt, President of the network, recently told a press gathering that he hoped that the new show would “come to life sometime next season”, potentially meaning a premiere as early as September this year, roughly the same time at which the sixth and final series of ‘Downton’ will be airing on British screens.

Fellowes’ interview also did not contain any more news about the possibility of a film version, which was mooted around the time of the announcement that the series would be coming to a close.

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