Carnival Films, the studio behind popular period drama Downton Abbey, issued a statement categorically denying a Daily Mail report that actress Maggie Smith asked to be written out of the show so she could focus on her film and stage careers.

The claim that Smith, who plays Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, personally asked Abbey creator Julian Fellowes "to write her character out" in the upcoming third season was "complete nonsense," according to Carnival Films spokeswoman Jessica Morris. "We never comment on future story lines but it's not true that she's leaving," Morris insisted.

Masterpiece, which co-produces the show with Carnival, would only say that it could not discuss future Downton Abbey stories. Reps for Smith refused to comment.

[New York Times, photo via PBS]