Dame Maggie Smith, one of Britain's most distinguished actresses, is fighting a private battle with breast cancer, I can disclose.
"She is dealing with it in her typically brave and understated way," one of her friends tells me. "She has had a tumour removed and subsequently completed a course of chemotherapy. This was precautionary and the prognosis looks good. The last thing she wants to do is to make a fuss about it."
The 73-year-old Oscar winner, right, insisted on going ahead with filming her role as Minerva McGonagall in the latest installment of the Harry Potter series last month even as she was undergoing radiation therapy.
When the treatment is completed, she is expected to begin work on Julian Fellowes's forthcoming film From Time to Time. I am told that work on the film - an adaptation of Lucy M Boston's books The Children of Green Knowe - has been put back by a few weeks to accommodate her.
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