Maggie Smith as "Downton Abbey's" Dowager Countess.
Maggie Smith, who plays the delightfully sharp Dowager Countess on "Downton Abbey," has yet to sign for seasons four and five of the show -- though she'll be back for season three.
Should she not sign a new contract, her character would certainly be missed -- she's the pepper in Mrs. Patmore's stew, the blaze of sunlight through the windows of the somewhat gloomy mansion.
Here are 10 of our favorite zingers from the mother of the Earl.
1. "What is a weekend?
2. Cora: "Things are different in America."
Lady Grantham: "I know. They live in wigwams."
3. (Upon being told the swivel chair was invented by Thomas Jefferson) "Why does every day involve a fight with an American?"
4. "So that’s Mary’s replacement. Well I suppose looks aren’t everything."
5. Sir Richard: "I'm leaving in the morning. I doubt we'll meet again."
Lady Grantham: "Do you promise?"
6. Mrs Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.”
Lady Grantham: “I must have said it wrong.”
7. "I have plenty of friends I don't like."
8. "Last night! He looked so well. Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house."
9. "One can't go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We'd all be in a constant state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper."
10. (Struggling with the newly installed telephone) "Is this an instrument of communication, or torture?"
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First published March 7 2012, 6:15 AM