Downton Abbey series two finale delivers a ratings high for ITV1

Period drama achieves its highest overnight audience yet as fans say goodbye until Christmas

Downton Abbey’s second series finale attracted the highest overnight viewing figures so far for the ITV1 period drama. 

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10.5 million people (a 38.8 per cent audience share) tuned in to ITV1 and ITV1 HD between 9pm and 10:30pm last night to see the eventful 90-minute episode, in which the household battled with a deadly case of Spanish flu. A further 200,000 viewers watched an hour later on ITV1+1.  

The numbers represent a new overnight record for Julian Fellowes’s show, and a significant increase in audience from the 2010 finale which attracted 10.1 million (a 37.7 per cent share) in November last year.  

The consolidated average audience (including recorded playback of the show) for the first six episodes of Downton series two is currently 11.5 million – an increase of more than 20 percent on the first series, which finished with a consolidated average of 9.5 million across its seven parts.

Downton easily won its terrestrial timeslot, beating off competition from BBC1’s Michael McIntyre: Hello Wembley!, which could only attract 2.8 million viewers (a 10.1 per cent share), and Will It Snow?, which pulled in 2.3 million viewers (an 8.2 per cent share) to BBC2. The Secret Millionaire attracted 1.5 million (a 5.3 per cent share) to Channel 4, with a further 200,000 watching an hour later on Channel 4+1. Big Brother continued to chug along on Channel 5, drawing 1.2 million reality fans, a 4.3 per cent of all viewers watching television at that time. 

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ITV has confirmed there will be a Downton Abbey Christmas special this Yuletide. At present, no precise scheduling information is available.