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‘Downton Abbey’ will end its run

Never doubt Maggie Smith. In early March, the “Downton Abbey” star announced that the coming season, the sixth, of the British costume drama would be her – as well as the show’s – final go around.

“They say this is the last one, and I can’t see how it could go on,” she said then. And while Smith’s publicist insisted that she was joking, it looks like she was right all along.

As rumored, hit British TV show “Downton Abbey” will indeed end for good after next season.

Production company Carnival Films, ITV and PBS confirmed the news on Thursday morning with a statement from executive producer Gareth Neame.

“Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years. Inevitably there comes a time when all shows should end and ‘Downton’ is no exception. We wanted to close the doors of ‘Downton Abbey’ when it felt right and natural for the storylines to come together and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans.”

This isn’t so surprising since, as TVLine reported over the weekend, the cast’s contracts expire after the upcoming sixth season, and it seems most of the actors want to wrap things up.

The smash drama, which premiered on ITV in Britain in September 2010, was an international hit. It racked up awards (including the Emmy for Best TV Movie or Miniseries in 2011) and easily became the most-watched show ever on PBS, adding to the America’s never-ending problem of Too Much Good TV To Watch On Sunday Nights.

Though ratings have dropped slightly with its UK audience, the show remained a powerhouse on U.S. television this season, with an impressive 10.1 million people tuning in for the fifth season premiere.

There are no available details yet on the sixth season, but Neame says there will be madness.

“We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up,” he said.

TV Line first reported the news of the show’s demise on March 20.