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Dame Maggie Smith fans have cause to rejoice this morning: the beloved actress is returning to the London stage for the first time in 12 years.

Smith, 84, has signed up to star in A German Life, a new one-woman play about the life of Brunhilde Pomsel, who served as personal secretary to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels during World War One.

It’s a seriously meaty role for the Oscar, Emmy and Tony-winning actress: Pomsel, who died in 2016 at the age of 106, was a somewhat controversial figure who never expressed remorse for her part in the Nazi regime.

Directed by Jonathan Kent from a script by Christopher Hampton, A German Life will run for five weeks from April 6 at the Bridge Theatre, whose artistic director Nicholas Hytner directed Smith in both the stage and film versions of The Lady in the Van.

Smith’s return to the stage is especially surprising because she’d previously suggested she had retired from stage work. “I feel I won’t work in the theater again,” she told 60 Minutes in 2013. “I’m sad about that.”

News of her West End return has been greeted pretty ecstatically on Twitter.

Smith’s last stage appearance came in a 2007 West End revival of Edward Albee‘s The Lady from Dubuque. She won a Tony Award in 1990 for her performance in Lettice and Lovage.

She’ll also be seen later this year in the Downton Abbey movie.

Are you excited for Dame Maggie Smith’s return to the stage?

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By Nick Levine