As the doors close to Downton Abbey, there’ll be one inhabitant in particular that it will be hard to say goodbye to.
For six series, we’ve watched the opinionated Dowager Countess cut down her family, friends and unwanted house guests with the one of the quickest, driest wits on television.
To celebrate the end of Downton, here are Lady Violet’s finest one-liners – delivered with inimitable elan by Dame Maggie Smith.
1. ”Oh, it is you! I thought it was a man in your clothes.” - To Lady Mary after she got her hair cut into a 1920s bob.
2. ”No guest should be admitted without the date of their departure settled.” – There’s only room for one matriarch at Downton and Lady Cora’s mother cannot be it.
3. ”At my age, one must ration one’s excitement.” - Withholding any glee about Edith’s upcoming wedding to Sir Anthony Strallan.
4. “Is this an instrument of communication or torture?” – It’s a telephone.
5. “When you talk like that, I’m tempted to ring for Nanny and have you put to bed with no supper.” - To her son Robert when he was upset about Matthew making Mary his sole heiress.
6. Sir Richard Carlisle: “I’m leaving in the morning, Lady Grantham. I doubt we’ll meet again.”
Dowager Countess: “Do you promise?” - her ladyship was no fan of the newspaper mogul.
7. Dowager Countess: “You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.”
Isobel Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.”
DC: “I must’ve said it wrong.”
8. “Do you think I might have a drink? Oh, I’m so sorry – I thought you were a waiter.” - When she disapproves of her son Robert wearing black tie to dinner.
9. “I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.” – To her American daughter-in-law, Cora.
10. “Don’t be defeatist, dear, it’s very middle class.” - Scolding her granddaughter Edith when she despairs of ever being married. Card
11. “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.” - On the death of Turkish diplomat Kemal Pamuk while visiting the Abbey.
12. “What is a weekend?” - Expressing her confusion about the concept of the working week, when Matthew reveals he has a job.
13. Dr Clarkson: “Mrs Crawley tells me she has recommended nitrate of silver and tincture of steel.”
Dowager Countess: “Why, is she making a suit of armour?” – The Dowager Countess poking fun at Isobel’s medical credentials.
14. “If we can show the county that he can behave normally, they will soon lose interest in him. And I shall make sure he behaves normally because I shall hold his hand on the radiator until he does.” - Lady Violet’s plan for Branson, the Abbey’s socialist chauffeur and Sybil’s husband.
15. “I wonder your halo doesn’t grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara around the clock.” - To do-gooder Isobel.
16. “Principles are like prayers: noble, of course, but awkward at a party.” - Shutting down a heated political argument.
17. Isobel Crawley: “How you hate to be wrong.”
Dowager Countess: “I wouldn’t know, I’m not familiar with the sensation.”
18. Isobel Crawley: “Servants are human beings too.”
Dowager Countess: “Yes. But preferably only on their days off.”
The final episode of Downton Abbey airs on Christmas Day on ITV at 8.45pm.