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Maggie Smith once said of her role in Downton Abbey: “I am deeply grateful for the work… but it wasn’t what you’d call satisfying. I didn’t really feel I was acting.”

Her character Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, became a fan-favourite thanks to her zingy lines in the period drama – and perhaps it was Smith’s affinity with the wise woman, and her own acerbic wit, that enabled her to deliver them so well.

To celebrate Downton Abbey’s 10th anniversary, here are Smith’s best quotes from the show…

“I am not a romantic. But even I will concede that the heart does not exist solely for the purpose of pumping blood.”

“I know several couples who are perfectly happy. Haven’t spoken in years.”

“My dear, love is a far more dangerous motive than dislike.”

Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith in ‘Downton Abbey’
Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith in ‘Downton Abbey’(ITV)

On the inconvenience of telephones

“Is this an instrument of communication or torture?”

On life and how to live it

“Life is a game, where the player must appear ridiculous.”

“No life appears rewarding if you think about it too much.”

“All life is a series of problems which we must try and solve, first one and then the next and then the next, until at last we die.”

“All this endless thinking. It’s very overrated. I blame the war. Before 1914, nobody thought about anything at all.”

“Principles are like prayers; noble, of course, but awkward at a party.”

“The presence of strangers is our only guarantee of good behaviour.”

“Don’t be defeatist, dear. It is very middle class.”

On hope and happiness

“Hope is a tease, designed to prevent us accepting reality.”

“All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite.”