'Why would I do that?': Maggie Smith questions the need to watch <i>Downton Abbey</i>.

'Why did I do that?': Maggie Smith questions the need to watch Downton Abbey.

Quick, someone fetch the smelling salts! Downton Abbey's Maggie Smith has never seen a single episode of the hugely popular costume drama in which she stars.

The actress, who's twice won an Emmy for her performance on the series, made the stunning confession in an interview scheduled to air in the US this Sunday on 60 Minutes.

The subject came up when correspondent Steve Kroft asked if she was proud of the phenomenal success of Downton Abbey. After a pause, she explained that she wasn't quite able to answer because she hasn't actually seen the finished product.

"I don't sit down and watch it. No, I've never watched it," she said.

"You must be the only person in England who's not watching," Kroft replied (more like the whole world, Steve).

"Well, that's a record then, isn't it, of some sort," she fired back, sounding very much like the Dowager Countess.

Smith predicted that she'll probably give in once the series is all over (funny, we never would have pegged her for a binge-viewer) but that for now it's too frustrating to watch her own work.

"I always see things that I would like to do differently and think, 'Oh, why in the name of God did I do that?"'

So why do it at all? "It's the delight of acting," she said.

In truth, the news isn't all that shocking, given Smith's wonderfully above-it-all attitude about showbiz in general. Like Woody Allen, she's a perennial no-show (as well as a perennial favorite) at just about every awards show imaginable.

Downton Abbey airs in Australia on Sunday on the Seven Network.

Los Angeles Times, with PA