Calling the Downton Abbey star "Downton Absent", the Emmys host took aim at the great Brit when she failed to show to collect her latest accolade, grabbing the award and telling her she could pick it up at the "lost and found".

The multiple Emmy winner, who has never personally picked up her awards, also inspired Kimmel to come up with a new rule at the top of the ceremony.

"You must be present to win," he joked. "If we call your name and you're not here to accept, the Emmy goes to the next name on the list. It's called the Maggie Smith rule."

He added, "This year she had a Sunday ceramics class she couldn't get out of. When Maggie Smith hears she's nominated for an Emmy, she has the same reaction the rest of us have when we get one of those 20 per cent off Bed Bath and Beyond (store) coupons in the mail. Right in the garbage.

"She goes to other award shows. She showed up at the Oscars to get an Oscar. She showed up at the Tonys. She goes to the Soul Train Awards every year. But is she here in this audience tonight? Well, I don't see her. She's Downton Absent is what she is. For the ninth time. What is wrong with us? Why do we keep nominating this woman?"

He ended his joke rant by stating, "I have a message for you 'lame' Maggie Smith, if you're even bothering to watch. If you want an Emmy, you better hop on a plane right now..."

The 2016 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama series winner found Kimmel's attack funny and responded via a statement, in which she wrote: "I was very astonished and pleased to win the award. I feel the Emmys have been overly generous to me. If Mr Kimmel could please direct me to the lost and found office I will try and be on the next flight. Love Old Maggie."