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11th Sep 2019

6 key times Maggie Smith was an absolute savage on Downton Abbey

Jade Hayden

maggie smith

Scenes, everywhere.

This month, the Downton Abbey movie is coming out. 

The eagerly anticipated feature length period drama is finally dropping into cinemas around the globe, giving everybody who has been craving a bit more Crawley in their lives a reason to get up in the morning.

Over the course of its five year run on TV, the show has garnered millions of fans around the world, won an abundance of awards, and even been named one of the most successful British costume dramas ever.

There are plenty of justifications for Downton‘s success – one of them being its superb cast and, maybe most notably, Maggie Smith.

Having played the sassy, hilarious, couldn’t-give-a-fuck Dowager since the show’s inception, Smith has brought a breath of fresh wit to a character who could easily have been lost amidst the intense drama of the country estate.

Thankfully, it has not been and the Countess of Grantham has remained a favourite among fans since the beginning.

So, here are a few of Dowager Countess Violet’s best, sassiest, and most savage moments from the show.

1. “I’m not familiar with that sensation.”

If there’s one thing we know about the Dowager, it’s that she is always correct.

Always. Even when she’s wrong. Don’t dispute it. Just let it be.

The Dowager was especially correct back in Downton Abbey‘s fourth season when she absolutely savaged Isobel Crawley with a one liner dripped in enough sass that it simply must go down in history.

“How you hate to be wrong,” said Isobel, practically baiting the Dowager to drop the following: “I wouldn’t know. I’m not familiar with the sensation.”

Absolutely bodied.

2. “Isn’t she American?”

Everybody loves a light jab at the US – everybody including Countless Violet Crawley.

And despite spending the majority of her days around an American in the form of her daughter-in-law, Cora, the Dowager never missed the chance to throw a sly dig whenever she got the chance.

When speaking to Cora and Matthew about the impending visit of Cora’s mother, Martha Levinson, Violet dropped the following home truth.

“I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English,” she says.

Matthew then asks: “But isn’t she American?” to which Violet responds: “Exactly.”


3. “Was I so wrong..?”

Over the course of Downton‘s six series, the Countess’s romantic history remained somewhat of a mystery.

That was, until, Prince Igor Kuragin showed up and asked the Dowager to run away with him.

Surprisingly, this wasn’t the first time that the Russian had asked Violet to join him in an elope-based event, as it was revealed that he had requested that she run away with him in the past too.

Clearly, the woman had made quite the impression.

However, 50 years had passed since the pair have seen each other – and Igor now has a wife of his own – so the Dowager sadly, yet firmly, decided to decline his offer.

But not without having a poignant moment of introspection, saying: “I will never again receive an immoral proposition from a man. Was I so wrong to savour it?”

Not at all, girl.

You get yours.

4. “Don’t be defeatist, dear…” 

This is a series about the upper class, and if you’re a Downton fan, you won’t be escaping the snobbery anytime soon.

So let’s just roll with it – we may as well.

Over the course of the show’s six series, Dowager Violet has taken several punches at the working, and indeed, the middle classes.

Being a countess, she doesn’t seem to have much time for anybody else who doesn’t also inhabit an impressive estate in the English countryside. As if achieving such a feat is simply a choice one could make.

The Dowager’s lack of enthusiasm around classes that don’t happen to be her own was emphasised back in the show’s second season when Lady Edith was lamenting the fact that she may never get married.

Violet was watching her granddaughter sigh while sort through wedding presents before dropping the following very telling line: “Don’t be defeatist, dear, it’s very middle class.”


5. “I’m so sorry!”

While not being sorry at all, naturally.

Like most elderly upper class folk of her time, Dowager Violet has little time for those who do not dress appropriately.

She has, of course, always sported the most relevant of #looks no matter the occasion, meaning that anybody who doesn’t is automatically up for some harsh criticism.

This came in the form of a snappy one-liner directed at Robert when he showed up to a white tie event wearing a black tie.

“I’m so sorry, I thought you were a waiter,” she barked.

The shade.

6. “Opinions differ…” 

As Downton Abbey neared to an upsetting close all those years ago, audiences were left hoping that the Dowager would get to drop at least one more stellar line before the curtain call.

And, lucky for us all, she did.

When the Dowager and her daughter Lady Rosamund were having a chat about the future, she asked her mother: “What do you think makes the English the way we are?”

The Countless responds: “I don’t know. Opinions differ. Some say our history. But I blame the weather.”

Classic British wit, always laying the onus elsewhere.

You love to see it.

Downton Abbey the movie arrives in Irish cinemas on September 13.